Back in 1799, George Washington wrote a letter complaining that he was short-changed on his expense claim. In fact, “the expenses he incurred during his recent trip to Philadelphia were more than the pay and emoluments that he received from the government and even exceed another month’s pay and emoluments.”
Back in November 1800, a fire ripped through the War Office and it was thought that all the papers in it were destroyed. It turns out that thankfully they were saved, and now there is a massive project to restore them:
Papers of the War Department 1784-1800 will present this collection of more than 55,000 documents in a free, online format with extensive and searchable metadata linked to digitized images of each document, thereby insuring free access for a wide range of users.
What makes this project different is that it is crowdsourced. PWD is using an open source tool called Scripto to open up the transcription to pretty much anyone (even you!). You can learn more about becoming a transcription associate here, and you can then browse the documents or search the archive and transcribe away.
The editors of the PWD project have also selected a list of transcription candidates if you want an idea where to get started.
So if you are interested in helping out with a great project, or want to transcribe a letter about Canadian refugees, they can use your help.
(Photo by Phil Roeder)