Get Started

Welcome to By the People! Help transcribe Library of Congress documents to improve search, access, and discovery of these pages from history.

Documents are transcribed and reviewed by volunteers. It takes at least one volunteer to transcribe a page and one other volunteer to review and mark it complete. Review ensures transcriptions are whole and accurate. Complex documents may pass through transcription and review several times before they are completed. Completed transcriptions are published on

Let's get started!

  1. Read the instructions on transcribing and reviewing. Access instructions at any time by clicking the "How To" tab on the right or at the top of any page.
  2. Create an account -- if you want! Anyone can transcribe without an account. Registered volunteers can review, tag pages, and track their work on a profile page.
  3. Choose what to transcribe. Explore our many campaigns featuring different Library of Congress collections. When you find a group of documents that looks interesting, click through to a page. Use filters to see just "Not Started" or "Needs review" pages.
  4. Transcribe what you can in the text box. Transcribe what you see in order and preserve line breaks. Have questions about something tricky? Revisit "How to transcribe."
  5. Use image viewer filters to make text clearer. Activate them using the button between full screen and flip. Use filters individually or combine them to adjust brightness, contrast, and invert color.
  6. Click “Save” as you go to save work in progress. If you decide a page isn't for you, that's ok! Just click “Save” before moving on. Other volunteers can finish what you started.
  7. Click "Save" and “Submit for review” when you've transcribed a whole page and think it is ready for review. If you aren't logged in, you will need to verify you are not a bot.
  8. After you transcribed a few pages, try out review! Review is the crucial final step before transcriptions are complete and ready for publication. All registered volunteers can review. Learn how.
  9. Try out tagging. Read our tagging instructions then try it on any page!

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