About Transcribing

Editors of the Jane Addams Digital Edition seek to engage the public in making the Jane Addams Papers more accessible. We're working with digital volunteers to transcribe historic documents to facilitate research and excite learning in everyone.

Why does transcription matter?

We transcribe all the documents that are mounted on the Addams Digital Edition for two reasons.

The first is that many people have difficulty reading handwritten documents, especially those with challenging penmanship. Jane Addams' handwriting is a challenge, which makes it important to us to ensure that everyone can read them with ease.

But why transcribe typed documents, you might ask. In some cases, they too are easier to read when rendered in transcribed form, but the more important reason is that once a document has been transcribed, it can be searched. If you want to locate all documents that mention a specific phrase, or place, or want to look at how Jane Addams' word usage changed over time, you need to have searchable transcripts.

Transcribing documents is also fun! It provides you with the opportunity to slow down, to read texts more closely and puzzle over what they mean.

Basic transcription instructions

We are trying to create a transcript of the document that works well in a digital environment.

In general, do what the author did. If something is underlined, or bold, or italics, that is how it should be in the transcription.

All text blocks should be either flush left, centered, or flush right. Screen sizes are so varied that trying to copy spacing will make the transcripts difficult to read.

Paragraphs are not indented.

We generally keep the punctuation the author uses, even if it is not always correct.

If you are not sure what a word says, add [square brackets] around it. If you are guessing, add square brackets with [a question mark?].

If you can't read a word or series of words, use [illegible] or [illegible words].

To make the searches more accurate, we correct misspellings and variant spellings of words.

Read more about the transcription process

What's available for transcription

There are various kinds of documents available for transcription. We are including Jane Addams' letters, both to her and from her, and all her speeches, articles, and public statements. Some materials (usually marked difficult) are handwritten, while others are typewritten or published. We do include newspaper reports of Addams' speeches and public statement as well. We are focusing on the years 1914-1917 in 2018 which include materials on the settlement movement, child labor and welfare, World War I, and the peace movement.