Exploring the Smithsonian Institution Transcription Center

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  • This issue of the journal takes a deep dive to look at the history of the Smithsonian Transcription Center, an online crowd souring portal where volunteers transcribe original archival materials that have been digitized. The articles discuss its work flows, technologies, and infrastructures; the methods undertaken at each of the archives or museums discussed her; and the case studies of particular projects. Articles within this special issue explore the Transcription Center's goals; explain how to build, manage, and integrate a similar crowdsourced portal into museum and archival operations; and demonstrate how the Transcription Center and similar projects can result in deep and sustained engagement among virtual museum visitors, satisfying their quest for lifelong learning.
  • Articles include: The Creation and Evolution of the Transcription Center, the Smithsonian Institution's Digital Volunteer Platform; Inviting Engagement, Supporting Success: How to Manage a Transcription Center; Great expectations: Meeting the Needs of Online Audiences at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History; Showcasing Collections from a Community Museum; Pen to Paper to Pixel: Transcribing Handwritten Letters and Diaries from the Archives of American Art; Establishing Workflows and Opening Access to Data with Natural History Collections; Planning and Storytelling with Collections: Establishing the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Transcription Center Presence; Engineering a Digitization Workflow to Accommodate Crowdsourcing; Making History with Crowdsourcing; More than Merely Transcription: An Analysis of Metatasks and Twitter Chat; and We Learn Together: Crowdsourcing as Practice and Method in the Smithsonian Transcription Center.


  • Anacostia Community Museum
  • Archives of American Art
  • Smithsonian Institution Archives (SIA)
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Smithsonian Transcription Center


Smithsonian History Bibliography


A special focus issue of the journal Collections on the Smithsonian Transcription Center

Contained within

Collections Vol. 12 Number 2 Journal

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu




  • Archival materials
  • Digital images
  • Personnel management
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Employees
  • Digitization
  • Museums
  • Archives
  • Digital libraries
  • Philosophy
  • Volunteers
  • Museums--Philosophy
  • Museum techniques
  • Museums--Employees
  • Smithsonian Institution--Employees
  • Museums--Collection management
  • Archival materials--Digitization



Physical description

Number of pages: 229; Page numbers: 0-229

Full Record

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