For Students

You may be able to fulfill virtual community service or service learning requirements by volunteering with By the People. Keep track of your contributions to the project by registering for an account. Registered users can view their contributions via their profile page.

You can download an official letter confirming that you have volunteered and including a list of your recent activity over the last six months at the bottom of your profile page. We have also created a spreadsheet log that provides a template for calculating your hours. Download the spreadsheet here or on your profile page. The "Recent Pages Worked On" tab in your profile provides links to each page you contributed with a date and time stamp from when you submitted or saved that page. 

Please note that we cannot track the amount of time you spend on the site. If needed, please document your own hours.

Because we cannot verify the number of hours you spend volunteering, we are unable to sign organization-specific forms, including automated ones, or create customized letters. 

For Educators

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.

Transcription help

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.

Tutorial videos

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:

Spanish and Latin resources