Love wasn’t the only thing celebrated on Valentine’s Day. The Hofstra community joined over 60 universities in a nation-wide transcribe-a-thon, digitizing the Freedmen’s Bureau Papers to commemorate the 200th birthday of Frederick Douglass.
In addition to the transcribe-a-thon, events honoring the prominent American abolitionist and author included a reading of selections from Douglass’ three autobiographies at Douglass Circle on campus, as well as a singing of Happy Birthday.
“The digital practice of crowdsourcing is a win for all of us,” said John Bryant, Douglass Day co-sponsor, professor emeritus of English, and director of Hofstra’s Digital Research Center. “Faculty and students sat together in the library foyer, reading everyday letters in the Smithsonian’s Freedmen’s Bureau files, putting our heads together staring at single words, trying to make sense of a scribble, until suddenly we see what we are reading. Transcribing seems like just“copying, but it is a real immersion into the past.”
The transcribe-a-thon was co-hosted by The Digital Research Center at Hofstra University; The Hofstra University Library; The Center for “Race,” Culture, and Social Justice; The National Museum of African American History and Culture; Smithsonian Transcription Center; and Colored Conventions Project.