Douglass Day Transcribe-A-Thon: 2022

Transcribe-A-Thon Overview 2022

Colored Convention historical illustrationIn 2022, the Douglass Day Transcribe-A-Thon features records from the Colored Conventions, a decades’ long nineteenth-century movement for Black civil rights.

Featured People and Works

The Colored Conventions reflect the long history of collective Black mobilization before, during, and long after the end of the Civil War. As empowering hubs of Black political thought and organizing, the Colored Conventions provided space for informed public audiences to develop political plans and community-building projects, celebrate racial unity and protest state violence, and work tirelessly to secure Black people’s civil rights.

Providing a powerful structure and platform for Black organizing, more than 200 state and national Colored Conventions were held between 1830 and the 1890s. Filling churches, city hall buildings, courthouses, lecture halls, and theaters, the well-attended Colored Conventions illustrate the diversity of cultural life and political thought among Black communities and their leaders. The meetings included the most prominent writers, organizers, church leaders, newspaper editors, educators, and entrepreneurs in the canon of early African American leadership—and tens of thousands more whose names went unrecorded. While most delegates were male, Black women participated through their newspaper work, entrepreneurial activism, political commitments, and especially their presence. They embodied the movement’s core values and challenged traditional beliefs about women’s place in public society. (From the Colored Conventions Project)


A quick checklist for hosts, who should plan to arrive at the transcribing station on the first floor of Raynor Library about 5 minutes before their shift starts; hosts should also bring a laptop with them. 

  • Open a browser on their laptop with event-specific pages open:

    • Douglass Day home page:

    • Transcribing start page:

  • Welcome would-be transcribers: 

    • First, ask everyone to sign in: first and last name, email, MU affiliation (student, faculty, staff), and reasons for attending (i.e., class, club, personal interest)  

  • Next, and ask what brings them to the transcribe-a-thon. 

    • Some students may be attending for extra credit in a particular class. If so, find out what kind of documentation they need (e.g., selfie, email from hosts) and help provide it. 

    • NB: Ott tutors do not use their personal email accounts for Ott business. If they need to send email documentation of participation, they can forward relevant info (i.e., student name, faculty name, faculty email, course, time of participation) to and reception will take it from there.   

  • Find out if would-be transcribers have participated before or are new:  

    • For returning transcribers: Chat briefly about past experiences

    • For new transcribers: Welcome them and let them know transcribing is fun, easy, and really interesting (e.g., as a form of highly interactive reading, as a way to learn new things)

  • For both all transcribers, offer a quick intro to this year’s focus, the Colored Conventions. 

    • In super brief, the Colored Conventions were the 19th century’s longest-running Black civil rights campaign (approximately 7 decades)

    • A bit more: The Colored Conventions began in 1830 with a gathering of African American leaders at Mother Bethel AME church in Philadelphia. The impetus: a nexus of anti-Black events (e.g., riots, discrimination) around the country created a need for deliberation and concerted response among Black Americans (see esp. ​​  

  • Segue to transcribing, by suggesting transcribers watch a brief video:

  • Then share this link to the transcription site, which we might also make available via QR code:


  • Additional notes for working with transcribers: 

    • Chatting while transcribing is welcome and even encouraged!

    • Often, transcribers wind up working on the same item and wind up helping each other with any tricky choices that come up. 

    • Everyone is welcome to take pictures, including selfies to document participation and screenshots of their work.