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Celebrate Court Reporting & Captioning Week by transcribing the Freedmen’s Bureau Records


NCRA members are invited to help preserve history in honor of NCRA’s 2023 Court Reporting & Captioning Week happening Feb. 4-11. Once again NCRA member Margary Rogers, RPR, CRI, an official court reporter from Washington, D.C., has arranged with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and staff from the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., to host a virtual transcribe-a-thon. This hands-on event is open to stenographers, captioners, and CART providers. The event takes place Feb. 5 from 2-4 p.m. Eastern via Zoom. Registration is required.

This marks the second time Rogers, who chairs NCRA’s Membership Committee, has organized this transcribe-a-thon in celebration of the week. The event is part of the ongoing project to transcribe more than 1.5 million original documents from the post-Civil War era. She also organized an onsite transcribe-a-thon for the bureau at the NCRA 2022 Conference & Expo which took place in Orlando. The session was covered by local news station Channel 7 News. Rogers is also a member of the NCRF Angels Gatherers Committee and the Foundation’s first-ever Carl Sauceda Grant awardee.

Participants will help share and preserve African American history by transcribing Freedmen’s Bureau Records from the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Smithsonian staff will kick off the session via a Zoom call and instruct participants on how the transcription proceedings will go, making group assignments of two to three court reporters or captioners. One group leader will enter translations using a writer or laptop while the group transcribes authentic documents together. The Freedmen’s Bureau Records is comprised of historic letters from slaves from the 19th century. Participants must register ahead of time to participate.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, formally known as the U. S. Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, was created by Congress in 1865 to “assist in the political and social reconstruction of post-war Southern states and to help formerly enslaved people make the transition from slavery to freedom and citizenship,” according to the museum’s promotional materials. The Bureau has created millions of records containing the names of formerly enslaved individuals and Southern white refugees. In 2016 the Smithsonian began its largest crowdsourcing project ever to begin transcribing these records.

Please note that laptops or writers are recommended but not required.

Read about the transcribe-a-thon hosted during NCRA’s 2022 Court Reporting & Captioning Week.

More information about the event and how members can register to transcribe can be found here.

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