Help to reveal the untold stories of Ohioans from the past.
Handwritten materials like letters and diaries are much easier to search and discover online when they include transcriptions. By contributing your time to transcribe these historical documents, you’re directly helping us to share the ordinary and extraordinary experiences of past Ohioans.
Transcribing is simple—just type what you see! You can read a brief overview of the instructions. Once you’re ready, either browse all of the documents available to transcribe, choose a certain type of format to work on, or search for keywords that interest you.
Available documents to transcribe include poems by Ohio poet Paul Laurence Dunbar, legal and land records from Ohio's early statehood, letters from the Civil War and beyond, botanical records, suffrage petitions, diaries, journals and more.
Transcribe text exactly as it appears.
This includes misspelled words, missing punctuation, and incorrect grammar. If a key term like a name or place is misspelled, you can include the correct spelling in [brackets] following the error. Transcribe everything on the page (dates and addresses, too), with the exception of logos and printed graphics on stationery.
Don't worry about (most) formatting
Alignment and fonts don’t need to be preserved in your transcript. The only formatting we request is that new paragraphs or sections be separated by a blank line in your transcript, and that when the original document starts a new line, you do, too (i.e. hit Enter). This may mean that you only have 5 or 10 words per line—that's fine! If you run into a word broken across two lines with a hyphen, place the full word on the second line of transcription. If a page includes two pages of the original object, start the first sentence of the second page on a new line and continue your transcription.
Run into something strange?
Indicate it with [brackets]. This includes writing that goes in a different direction on the page, illegible or torn/missing words, doodles, and other unusual features. Your transcript will be reviewed before it goes online, so do your best!
Save your progress so you or another user can complete the work later if there’s still content on the page to transcribe, or mark the page as complete when you feel you've finished the page. If you have questions or comments, use the available form to submit them to project staff.