Events News

Transcribe-a-thon Honors Black History on Douglass Day 2021

On February 12 and 14, 2021, thousands of people will celebrate Douglass Day. The event marks the chosen birthday of Frederick Douglass by inviting members of the public to join an online crowdsourcing project. It’s a way to celebrate Black History Month with a digital twist!

This year’s project focuses on the papers of Mary Church Terrell (1863-1954). Terrell is an iconic figure in the pantheon of Black women activists. Among her extraordinary accomplishments, she helped to found the NAACP and the NACW (National Association of Colored Women). She lived in Washington, DC for most of her life and helped countless people to earn an education and fight for Black civil rights.

This project is presented in concert with the Library of Congress through their new platform, By The People. Launched in 2018, By The People invites members of the public to transcribe, review, and tag digitized pages from the Library’s collections. Everyone is welcome to take part! Volunteer-created transcriptions improve search, readability, and access to handwritten and typed documents for everyone, including people who are not fully sighted.

Due to the pandemic, this year’s event will run virtually.  The virtual program will feature a lineup of speakers — including Terrell’s biographer, Alison Parker, and a growing list of VIPs who can speak to the life and legacies of Mary Church Terrell more broadly. This gathering joins forces with more than 2,000 people at twenty-five locations (and counting) across North America & Europe.


  • Friday, Feb 12 (12-2 PM EST)
  • Sunday, Feb 14 (2-3 PM EST)


  • Center for Black Digital Research (DigBlk) at the Pennsylvania State University
  • Pennsylvania State University Libraries, Center for Humanities and Information, and College of Liberal Arts
  • Princeton University Center for Digital Humanities

Lead organizers for media contacts –

  • Jim Casey, Penn State
  • Denise Burgher, University of Delaware

LITS will be hosting a Zoom space during the activity hour, Friday 12:30-1:30 PM EST, for those who wish to transcribe with others. Register here to join us:  


For those unfamiliar with transcribing, there will be a 5 minute “How to transcribe” and review video during the livestream. In addition a full playlist of videos on transcribing and reviewing will be uploaded onto the Douglass Day youtube channel in the days preceding the event.

For more information, check out: