Experience in Crowdsourcing

On February 14, 2023, I attended Rowan University’s first every Douglass Day transcribe-a-thon! Thankfully for my schedule, I was able to attend the entire event which ran from 11am through 3pm. This was my first time attending an event like this and I was so excited. I knew some of my friends would be there and I was looking forward to doing some important work (transcribing under-studied sources on Mary Ann Shadd Cary).

The entire experience was memorable, from the incredible food to learning new things with my friends. On the website to transcribe Shadd Cary’s documents, you had the option to pick various forms of difficulty and different exercises. For instance, you could choose between transcribing newspaper text from The Provincial Freeman or handwritten correspondences. I tried to transcribe one of the handwritten ones, which was incredibly difficult. You could also opt for selecting the publication information for some newspapers or selecting names that were mentioned in various sources. Below is a photo of part of the process of transcribing:

Something that I found incredible about this process was the inclusion of a content warning. Personally, I did not require a content warning though I thought this was an insightful and human touch to the process. Similarly, I really liked how the warning included hashtags and message boards to talk about the subject matter with other people. The provided content warning is shown below:

Something that I discussed with my friends who attended the event was the feeling of community. I had never attended an event like this before and seeing people post photos online in real time of other college students doing the same activity was incredibly meaningful. It felt great to come together with other people with a similar goal while simultaneously helping important and under-represented histories be more accessible. This is something that I will definitely attend again in the future and I highly recommend everyone attend at least once!

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