In left "W" frame, a black and white image of Clara Barton, seated. In right "W" frame, Clara's writing in cursive.

Transcribe Clara: A Women’s History Month Transcribe-A-Thon

Join this Women’s History Month to transcribe Clara Barton’s papers, held at the Library of Congress! Help unlock the past, one word at a time, by delving into the archives! This virtual, free event is open throughout the month of March to anyone who wants to be a part of this essential, crowdsourced public history project! How much you transcribe is entirely up to you. Try it once or join every day—every little bit counts!

Transcribing historical documents is the process of taking (generally) handwritten documents and putting them into plain text. Transcription improves the searchability, readability, and accessibility of historical documents for people who use screen readers or other assistive technology. It also makes them searchable by keyword and easier to read. The Library of Congress’ By The People project supports the transcription of documents in their archives.

This March, the National Women’s History Museum encourages you to help transcribe Clara Barton’s papers! Nurse, educator, philanthropist, lecturer, and founder of the American Red Cross, Clara Barton (1821-1912) kept diaries throughout her life. We need your help to make her writings more accessible and, by extension, more widely known!

Here are some tips and tricks for getting started!

  • Transcribing is not about correcting, it’s about typing what you see! Preserve all original spelling, punctuation, grammar, word order, capitalization, abbreviations, and other notations.
  • Unsure about one word in a phrase or sentence? Read it out loud! Sometimes reading a word in its context can help you decipher it.
  • Handwriting is repetitive—the more you read, the more you get used to someone’s particular ways of writing certain letters or words. It gets faster as you go!
  • When in doubt, don’t guess! Instead write [?] for a full word or [x??] if you can decipher one letter in the word (replacing x with the letter you can decipher). Another citizen transcriber may be able to figure it out and you’ve alerted them that it’s tricky!
  • HIT SAVE OFTEN! You are doing essential work and you don’t want to lose it!
  • Breaks are good and make you a better transcriber. If you get stuck on a word or just need a screen break, walk away! You’ll come back with fresh eyes and be a better handwriting detective.

By registering, you are letting us know “I’m In!” during Women’s History Month. Say “I’m In” and help #TranscribeClara!


To see the campaign to transcribe Clara Barton’s papers, please go here.

To learn more about transcribing with the By the People project, go here.


Mar 31 2024


All Day


Virtual Event
National Women's History Museum


National Women's History Museum
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