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Celebrating Frederick Douglass’s Birthday With a Transcribe-a-Thon

By Kenny Oravetz

On February 14, the NULab for Texts, Maps and Networks, the Women Writers Project, the Digital Scholarship Group and Snell Library’s Open Access programming teamed up for a special Valentine’s Day celebration—a transcribe-a-thon and birthday party for Frederick Douglass.

Faculty, staff, and students from various disciplines across Northeastern gathered in the Digital Media Commons to help transcribe documents from the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers. Fueled by pizza, snacks, and a birthday cake with Douglass’ photo on it, the transcribers assisted each other with difficult-to-read script and unknown abbreviations.

The transcribe-a-thon was part of a national celebration for Douglass’ birthday, organized by the Colored Conventions Project in association with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Northeastern participated in the inaugural transcribe-a-thon last year as one of nine institutions hosting local events — this year, the Northeastern group joined 64 other campuses and organizations for the event. We live-streamed the program from the Colored Conventions Project, connecting with others across the nation working on transcribing these important documents.

Thanks to everyone who came out to celebrate and help transcribe. Hope to see you for next year’s celebration!

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