Are you good at reading other people’s handwriting? Put your skills to the test by helping with the Smithsonian’s transcription of the Freedman’s Bureau Records. These records of the United States Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands tell the story of the post-Civil War transition of enslaved people to freedom. Once transcribed, these letters, contracts, censuses, and marriage and hospital records will be keyword-searchable, giving future generations a chance to reclaim their history.
Anyone can start transcribing; a tutorial and reference documents are provided. You don’t need an account on the site unless you’d like to help review other people’s transcriptions. The activity is addictive, so be prepared to stay up late and miss some Netfix time. These records about post-Emancipation family life will draw you in and give you a unique view of social conditions in the South after the Civil War. Learn more about the project or browse volunteer opportunities.