Transcribing Early Copyright Applications

By the People is the Library of Congress project that was formerly known as the Crowd project. The name changed at some point in the last year, but the purpose of the project remains the same. That purpose is to enlist the help of the public to transcribe historical documents housed the by the Library of Congress. Over the years hundreds of thousands of documents related to the American Civil War, baseball, and Women’s Suffrage have been transcribed through the By the People project. There are still transcription projects running for documents from presidential collections and the Civil Rights Movement. American Creativity: Early Copyright Title Pages is the latest collection of documents available for viewing and transcribing in the By the People project. 

American Creativity: Early Copyright Title Pages contains hundreds of thousands of title pages from publications submitted to federal courts for copyright protection between 1790 and 1870. As I just learned from reading about the project, until 1870 the process for copyright protecting a work required authors to submit an application, a fee, and a copy of the title page of their work at their local federal court. American Creativity: Early Copyright Title Pages is organized according to decade. You’re free to browse through the titles, download covers, and contribute to the transcription. I found it fun to browse and just look at some of the titles and topics that were “trending” in different decades. 

Applications for Education
As I’ve written in the past, the By the People project can be a good opportunity for high school students and some middle school students to learn while contributing to a national project. All of the collections in By the People do have timelines and some other resources that help to provide context for the documents that are in need of transcription.

The Smithsonian has a similar crowdsourcing project called Smithsonian Digital Volunteers. In this short video I demonstrate and explain how you and your students can participate in the projects.


Thank You Readers for 14 Amazing Years!