Advancing Accessibility

Genealogists are the giving type. They volunteer for societies, libraries, and archives. Most answer questions and help newcomers. Those with a handful of free minutes and a desire to help might enjoy volunteering to improve records access.

The United States National Archives (NARA) has a Citizen Archivist program. Citizen Archivists work remotely to tag, comment on, or transcribe documents in spotlighted projects. Multiple volunteers can contribute to a document or file. Volunteer efforts increase accessibility to record collections.

Only have a few minutes? Transcribe one document in a file. Every effort helps.

Volunteering will improve your ability to read old handwriting and to transcribe documents. You will become more familiar with records in certain collections, and better understand them. Citizen Archivists see images of textual records and photographs that they might not otherwise consider viewing. We learn a great deal by looking at the records of strangers.

The first step in becoming a volunteer is to register for an online account. Then log in and find a project you like. I suggest a quick review of the short how-to resources before beginning work.

Current “topical missions” include:

  • Escape and Evasion Reports
  • “United States Colored Troops” – American Civil War
  • Federal Aviation Facilities, 1946–1972
  • Portland Branch Evacuee Property Files
  • Reports of Wagonmasters and Printers Employed at Various Posts, 1865
  • European Name Index to the Series “Case Files, 1944–1949”
  • Second Release of Subject Files Under the Nazi War Crimes and Japanese Imperial Government Disclosure Acts
  • United States of America v. Howard T. Winter et al., 1979–1995

There are also “Outside the Box Missions” and “Featured Records.”

If you don’t log in for over a year your account is deactivated. A simple email will get it reactivated. Don’t ask how I know that!

To learn more about the Citizen Archivist program, or to register and start transcribing, see NARA’s Citizen Archivist Dashboard.

To see the current Citizen Archivist Missions, visit the missions page.

Let us know if you become a Citizen Archivist!

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