This may be one of the most important history-related web sites launched so far this year. The following announcement was written by John Clegg, a founder of the African American Civil War Soldiers web site:
African American Civil War Soldiers is a new website that will crowd-source the transcription of the military records of roughly 200,000 African Americans soldiers who fought for their freedom in the American Civil War. These records are of great interest to historians and genealogists, since they contain detailed biographic information on individual Union Army soldiers, most of whom were slaves at the start of the Civil War. However, until now these records have been locked away in the National Archives in DC, accessible only to a select few researchers. Our website invites members of the public to help transcribe scanned images of the soldiers’ records, turning them into text that can easily be searched by students and historians, as well as descendants of the soldiers themselves. The database we collect will be made freely available on the website of the African American Civil War Museum. It will serve as a memorial to the solders and their legacy, as well as a teaching aid and a tool for genealogical research.
Please consider visiting the site and volunteering today. If each visitor devotes just 10 minutes of their time we will complete the database in no time at all. When you click on the link you will immediately be given the opportunity to sign in and start transcribing the records. We transcribe each record multiple times for verification purposes, and because different people find different handwriting harder or easier to read. The soldiers’ records consist mostly of simple printed forms, which makes the transcription process much easier. We have also created drop-down menus that make it easy for volunteers to identify historic locations and other information contained in the records. Finally, we have created a field guide on 19th century handwriting and the historical context, as well as a discussion forum where volunteers can compare notes and alert researchers to interesting findings. Get involved at: www.usct.cc!