Free Technology for Teachers: Transcribing Early Copyright Applications

By the People is the Library of Congress project, formerly known as the Crowd Project. The name changed at some point in the last year, but the purpose of the project is the same. This purpose is to get help from the public to transcribe historical documents housed in the Library of Congress. Over the years, hundreds of thousands of documents related to the American Civil War, baseball and women’s suffrage have been transcribed through the By the People project. Transcription projects are still running on documents from presidential collections and the civil rights movement. American Creativity: Early Copyright Title Pages is the latest collection of documents available for viewing and transcription in the By the People project.

American Creativity: Early copyright title pages contain hundreds of thousands of title pages from publications submitted to federal courts for copyright protection between 1790 and 1870. As I have just learned from reading about the project, authors required that until 1870 the copyright protection of a work be submitted. fee and a copy of the title page of their work at their local federal court. American Creativity: Early copyright title pages are organized by decade. You are free to browse the titles, download covers and contribute to the transcript. I found it fun to browse and just look at some of the titles and topics that were “trending” in different decades.

Applications for education

As I have written before, the By the People project can be a great opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn while contributing to a national project. However, all the collections in By the People have timelines and some other resources that help create context for the documents that need transcription.

Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers. In this short video, I demonstrate and explain how you and your students can participate in the projects.

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