13 Things For History Lovers To Do Online When They're Bored

Help out historians by volunteering to transcribe old documents online. Here are some fun projects to work on.

History needs your help!

There are tons of libraries, institutions, archives, and historical societies out there that have gobs and gobs of documents, letters, data logs, and basically anything written. To fully digitize all this handwritten information, they're asking for help from volunteers to transcribe the pages.

They've already taken photographs or scans of the pages; all you need to do is look at the image and type out what you see written there. That way, the information can be made searchable.

Here are a few really interesting projects from organizations asking for help transcribing. If you think you can read old-timey handwriting and have an hour or two to spare, help out!

1. Help the University of Texas with its collection of Texan historical documents.

2. Uncover the history of the pioneer women of Iowa through their diaries and letters.

3. Love shipwrecks? Help catalog the manifests of shipwrecks of the Great Lakes.

4. Like British philosophy? Help the University College of London transcribe manuscripts of Jeremy Bentham.

5. Help biologists compare bird populations from the last century with the North American Bird Phenology Project.

6. Help Scottish history and genealogy on ScottishPlaces.

7. Help illuminate American history by transcribing for UIowa's Civil War Diaries, WWI Letters & Diaries, and WWII Letters & Diaries.

The letters and diaries from soldiers of three major military conflicts will be like gold to researchers of American history. The collections include official notices, as well as sweet love letters from soldiers to their wives, like this one.

8. Have a knack for cooking? Transcribe cookbooks from as early as 1600 from the Szathmary Culinary Manuscripts and Cookbooks collection at the University of Iowa.

9. Interested in space? Transcribe the astronomer's observation logs for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

10. Australian history buffs can help with biographical index cards of Western Australia.

The State Library of Western Australia is asking the public for help transcribing index cards with biographical information of the residents of the 1800s–1900s. The handwriting is mercifully clear, and each one won't take long, so this is a good beginner project.

11. For Californians who aren't afraid of spiders, Nature.org needs help with its California bug specimen records, dating back to the 1880s.

12. New York foodies can help the New York Public Library transcribe its collection of vintage restaurant menus.

13. Help the World Memory Project transcribe documents from the Holocaust and the Nazi persecution.

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