Douglass Day Transcribe-A-Thon: FAQs

Q: What is Douglass Day?

A: Douglass Day is a holiday that began around the turn of the twentieth century. After the passing of Frederick Douglass in 1895, Black communities across the U.S. gathered to celebrate his birthday every year on February 14th. They celebrated, remembered, and protested against the threat of racial violence and attacks on their civil rights. These memorials offered a space for reflection on the past and the questions of today. Douglass Day was one of the origins of Black History Month. In 2017, the Colored Conventions Project revived these celebrations as an annual day for preserving Black history. About - Douglass Day (FAQ section)

Marquette began hosting Douglass Day events in 2019 thanks to the initiative taken by Dr. Lisa Lamson, who was a doctoral student in history and also a peer tutor at the Ott. NB: Lisa is now a lecturer in History and Humanities at the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, where she teaches a variety of African American history and historic methodology courses.
This year, the Libraries and the Ott Memorial Writing Center are observing Douglass Day together both February 14  and throughout the week.

Q: Who is Frederick Douglass?

A: Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey; c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. After escaping from slavery in Maryland, he became a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York, becoming famous for his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. See Wikipedia-Frederick_Douglass

Q: What is a transcribe-a-thon?

A: Transcribe-a-thons are crowdsourced events where people work to transcribe or make a copy of information that is in a different format. People transcribe audio and video recordings, and they transcribe handwritten documents, turning them into easier to read, typed versions.  Just as there are citizen science projects, or science done by the interested public, this is a citizen history project
For the Douglass Day transcribe-a-thon in 2023, we will be transcribing the papers of Mary Ann Shadd Cary. 

Q: Do I need any special training or skills?

A: Good news! No special training or skills are required. To get started, all Douglass Day transcribers get to watch a short, 7-minute video. It introduces you to the Zooniverse transcription platform and walks you through the simple step-by-step process of transcribing and identifying important names from Colored Convention records. By the end you’ll know everything you need to know to help make history—or, really, to help make history more accessible to others.

Q: Who was Mary Ann Shadd Cary?

A: Mary Ann Shadd Cary (1823 - 1893) was an anti-slavery activist and speaker, a teacher, a journalist and publisher, lawyer and suffragist.  Born to free African-American parents in Delaware, her family moved first to Pennsylvania, then to Canada (what is now Ontario) in pursuit of education and opportunity. As an adult, she moved back to the United States to teach.   

Here are some links with more information about her.

Q: What else?

A: You can learn more via the Douglass Day website, and you can follow @DouglassDay on Twitter, where you can judge entries in the #GDDBO or Great Douglass Day Bake Off. You can even bake your own Douglass Day cake. If you do, don’t forget to tag @OttWC and @MarquetteRaynor.