Library of Congress Seeks Help to Transcribe Women’s Suffrage Papers

The Library of Congress is asking for volunteers to help transcribe more than 16,000 historic papers related to the women’s suffrage movement. It has launched a crowdsourcing platform, “By the People,” to ask the public to help type up written documents word for word, which will make it easier to find and read original sources.

The Library of Congress project coincides with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which Congress passed in June 1919. Women officially gained the right to vote in August 1920, when the amendment was ratified.

The Library of Congress’s collection includes letters, speeches, newspaper articles, personal diaries and other materials from famed suffragists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; accounts from Carrie Chapman Catt, who served twice as president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, including during the final successful ratification campaign; and the diaries of Mary Church Terrell, a founder of the National Association of Colored Women, which shed light on minorities’ laborious suffrage struggles and her own dealings with civil rights figures like W.E.B. Du Bois.

Elizabeth Novara, an American women’s history specialist and curator of the Library of Congress’s new “Shall Not Be Denied” suffrage exhibition, said she hopes the transcription endeavor will give people an opportunity to “engage with our collections and feel a connection with the suffragists.”

“This project may be of interest to members of the League of Women Voters as we begin to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” said Dianne Bystrom, LWVNE co-president. “This would also be a great project for college classes to help them learn more about the women’s suffrage movement.”

As of now, more than 4,200 documents have already been transcribed. However, thousands more need transcription. You can donate your time and typing skills to the project here.

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