Douglass Day in the College Classroom

Want to bring Douglass Day into your undergraduate or graduate class?

Can’t have your class join during the scheduled events?

Fear not!

Every year, we welcome a good number of college classes during and after the middle of February. All of our videos, transcribing activities, and more will remain online & readily available. We encourage everyone to remix and adapt the program offerings as you see fit.

Below we have added a few suggestions gleaned over the years from our collaborators. Thank you for your interest & contributions — we couldn’t do this without you!

New materials released on February 12th: A large collection of Mary Church Terrell’s papers (~4800 pages) will be posted to the By The People website on the morning of February 12th. We regret that this release timing is unable to be changed. If you want to transcribe before then, we can heartily recommend their other campaigns, including the project on Suffrage: Women Fight for the Vote.

Option 1 – Give a class assignment / extra credit

Give your students an assignment to transcribe a page or two outside of class. We estimate that each page takes about 30 minutes, plus or minus some time when encountering a platform for the first time.

If students create an account on the transcription platform, they will be able to see the activity logs for their accounts. After they complete a page or two, they can take a screenshot and send it to you for credit. (Please note that the platform managers are often unable to access that private/personal data so you will need to ask students to self-report.)

Before students begin transcribing, please ask them to take a look at our YouTube channel. The channel provides video tutorials on transcribing, along with videos about the background and importance of the materials we are transcribing together. They can also consult the resources on our Transcribe page.

Option 2 – Join as a class during the event

We welcome classes to join us during the live events. See the schedule for this year’s program on February 12 and February 14. Our event will feature a live broadcast with speakers on the life and legacies of Mary Church Terrell.

We’ll post the broadcast on our home page and on the YouTube channel. For a more detailed schedule, please see our Organizing Kit page.

Option 3 – Join next week or month

All of our materials will remain online for months to follow the specific Douglass Day date(s). We will keep the transcription projects open until we run out of things to transcribe or review. Please consult our Organizing Kit page and the YouTube channel to view resources to help you recreate the magic of Douglass Day in your class meetings (and we still recommend some birthday cake!).

Suggested class session:

  1. Watch brief segments of the video (~10 minutes)
  2. Transcribe pages (20-30 minutes)
  3. Discussion and reflections on transcribing & materials (10-20 minutes)

When students are working in class, we suggest putting them into pairs or small groups so that they can chat & support each other as they make progress.

The period of time for transcribing can vary, but we find that 20-30 minutes is usually enough to get through one page and have a meaningful experience.

We find that students really enjoy getting to share their experiences after transcribing. Being immersed in a digital collection for the first time can raise many different responses, questions, and curiosities.

Extras: Social Media & Birthday Cake

Please encourage your students to post their findings, reactions, and questions on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #DouglassDay. Don’t forget to tag and follow our account, @DouglassDayorg.

Please let us know the date & times for your class session, so we can try to make sure to have our social media team ready to respond & interact.

And please don’t forget to encourage everyone to bake a birthday cake for Douglass Day since February 14th was his chosen birthday. (People often laugh at our emphasis on the cakes but we find they’re so important for creating both spaces of historical reflection and spaces for joy.)