Who wants to find them, transcribe them, build the database to host them, and pay to maintain them?
I think we're all a little guilty of this. Whether it's because we simply don't know about all of the opportunities available, or we think we don't have the necessary skills required, or we're just feeling too lazy/busy/set in our ways to help. We've all made the excuses. But there's no time like the present to jump in and lend a helping hand!
Records are unsearchable, and therefore invisible, until they are transcribed, tagged, and indexed. If we want things to be free and searchable, we need to be part of the cost cutting measures. And the repositories who are already taking on the bulk of this free access burden need our help with the most time consuming part. It's the single greatest contribution we can make to a record collection. Why wouldn't we share the skills we've accumulated as genealogists to help institutions across the globe to provide better records access to all of us? If we aren't part of the solution, we're part of the problem.
Check your favorite repositories--local, state, regional, and national--to see what they need from you. If you come across, sponsor, or need volunteers for any transcribing projects, add them in comments!
These are the ones I've come across so far just through Google searching, my own research, and reaching out on social media.
- Family Search Indexing
- Ancestry.com - World Archives Project
- US National Archives - Citizen Archivist
- Smithsonian Institute Records Transcription
- World Memory Project - United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
- Colored Conventions - African American State Convention Minutes and Records
- Europeana - Transcribe 1914-1918 (Note: the website appears to be in German. Google Translate provides a partial rendering. If there is an option to select an English version of the website, I couldn't find one)
- Candian Great War Project - War Diaries Transcription
- National Archives of Australia - HIVE
- The Atlas of Living Australia - Field Journals and Historical Documents
- UK National Archives - click Current Opportunities
- Operation War Diary - British Forces of WWI
- Zooniverse - Provide digitization service for various repositories, including those of historical, cultural, or scientific interest.
- New York Public Library Map Warper - Align images of historic maps to current areas (Note: Watch the video tutorial on the left to see how to use the map rectification tool. Map database includes maps throughout the United States and countries throughout the globe)
- Papers of the War Department, 1784-1800 - through George Mason University
- Library of Virginia - Making History
- State Library and Archives of North Carolina - Vertical Files
- Moravian Church Archives - Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
- Congregational Library and Archives - Boston, Massachusetts
- New York Public Library - Community Oral History Project
- Maryland State Archives - Newspaper Transcription (Note: click through to any of the newspaper images, and the links to view transcriptions and transcribe will be at the top of the page.)
- University of Iowa - DIY History (Note: Current projects may be selected under the Transcribe by Topic drop down menu at the top of the page)
There are certainly more projects available out there than just these. So please, let us know when you find them.
The research you help by giving back may just be your own!