Transcription Resources & Guides (2020)

Link to Transcribe Cooper on Zooniverse

(See the schedule at the bottom of this page)

What is a transcribe-a-thon?

A transcribe-a-thon is an event in which people gather in person or online to work simultaneously on a crowdsourcing project. We share cool finds and more on social media, connecting across all of our locations.

Our main activity will be transcribing the words on a website called Zooniverse. We’ll help transcribe all sorts of documents from the papers of Anna Julia Cooper (letters, diaries, certificates, postcards, and more). We provide all the tutorials you’ll need. No experience is needed. The Zooniverse transcribing website is beginner friendly!

Who can join the transcribe-a-thon?

Anyone with an internet connection and a computer/laptop is more than welcome to join! No prior experience is needed. We will be posting tutorial videos during the week before Feb 14th. Our online platform is free to use, and will also provide lots of instructions how to sign up, get started, and find help. We’ll even have a forum. You can post questions on the forum to get help from our experts. Our librarian & historian experts are standing by & eager to make the process fun & engaging for all!


We suggest one laptop per 1-3 people. Transcribing in small teams of 2-3 people can be a lot of fun! Or, people can take turns transcribing. 

Learn to transcribe on Zooniverse

We will post transcribing tutorials in the week before February 14th. Before then, we invite you to try out the Zooniverse platform. It’s very beginner friendly. You can spend a few minutes helping to transcribe records of African American soldiers in the American Civil War or look for undiscovered planets in outer space (yes, really!). A brief demonstration & training will also be included in our session for local event organizers on our YouTube channel (Feb 7th at 12pm EST).  Once ready, our project on Zooniverse will also contain plenty of “how to” details & guides to help people get started, find things to transcribe, and assistance for any troubleshooting. (We’re also creating a forum this year with dedicated staff, coming soon!)

Demonstrations on Feb 7 + 14

During the broadcasts on Feb 7 + 14, our experts will demonstrate how to use the platform. We’ll explain how to (1) create an account, (2) find pages to transcribe, and (3) share finds on our forums and on social media. We’ll have time for Q&A on Feb 7, along with sharing our behind-the-scenes quality control process.


We will have a team ready to answer questions on February 14. Due to the expected volume, we may not be able to answer everyone’s questions right away. If local event organizers can spend 10 minutes getting familiar with the Zooniverse process, you’ll be able to answer most questions for folks in your group.

Suggested Schedule

(All times Eastern Standard)

February 7 – Live Preview

12-1 pm (EST) on our YouTube channel.

  • Preview of Douglass Day and tutorials on the Zooniverse platform.

February 14 – Main event

All events will be airing on our YouTube channel.

Live broadcast – 12 to 12:30pm

  • Welcome & introductions
  • Sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (lyrics)
  • Overview for the Douglass Day 2020 program
  • Speakers on Douglass and Cooper

Activity – 12:30 to 1pm

Live broadcast – 1 to 1:30pm

  • Sing “Happy birthday” (both versions)
  • Speakers on Cooper in DC
  • Honoring Dunbar High School
  • Dunbar Student Poetry Readings
  • Speaker on Cooper and Alpha Kappa Alpha

Activity – 1:30 to 2:45pm

  • Time for transcribing, reading, discussions, etc.
  • During this time, we’ll leave the live stream running, but will go silent.

Live broadcast – 2:45 to 3pm

  • Closing Reflections