Visit For Educators to find ideas and support for engaging students of all ages with primary sources through By the People.
Host a transcribe-a-thon or review-a-thon event
Thinking of hosting a transcribe-a-thon or other By the People event? We’ve created a how-to guide, instruction handout, and introductory slides to make planning and leading an event easy.
- How to host a transcribe-a-thon (PDF)
- "Getting started" presentation (PPT)
- "Quick Tips" instructions hand out (PDF)
The majority of handwritten documents in By the People were penned between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Spencerian Script (Approx. 1850-1925) is a script style considered the American standard writing style prior to the widespread adoption of the typewriter.
If you are new to historical transcription you may run into unfamiliar spellings and abbreviations common for this style of script. The resources provided below demonstrate many of these and how to transcribe them correctly.
- Handwriting in the 19th century, Sullivan Press
- How to decipher unfamiliar handwriting, Natural History Museum Archives (UK) - Quick reference guide explaining common letters and symbols used in 19th century script
- Palaeography: reading old handwriting, 1500 - 1800, A practical online tutorial, UK National Archives
As part of the 2021 transcribe-a-thon for the Mary Church Terrell Papers, the Douglass Day organization created tutorial videos to orient new users to By the People. The following videos are available on the Douglass Day YouTube channel:
- What is transcription? What is reviewing?
- Getting started: Transcribing & Reviewing
- Additional Features [Tagging and communicating with By the People]
- Frequently Asked Questions
Spanish and Latin resources
- Herencia Cheat Sheet for Mac and PCs
- Herencia Cheat Sheet for Mac and PCs en Español
- 17th Century Printed Latin Orthography
- 17th Century Printed Latin Orthography en Español
- How and why to transcribe Herencia (webinar, recorded Feb. 27, 2020)
You may be able to fulfill community service or service learning requirements by contributing to By the People. Keep track of your contributions to the project by registering for an account. Registered users can track their contributions via their profile page. From your profile you can also download an official letter confirming that you have taken part. Note that we cannot track the amount of time you spend volunteering; if needed, please document your own hours.