New England's Hidden Histories actively seeks volunteers to help with the transcription of records of Congregational churches and Congregationalists from early New England.

Providing literal (or verbatim) transcription is of tremendous benefit to researchers. Placement of transcriptions alongside the image of an original document saves the reader time deciphering handwriting, some of which can puzzle even the most experienced scholars upon initial reading. Transcription also makes the manuscripts searchable in important ways: first, it expands the keyword searchability of the NEHH digital archive; and second, it helps augment the creation of descriptive metadata associated with these records to include more specific place names, individuals mentioned in the text, and ultimately subject classification.

NEHH welcomes anyone to become a volunteer transcriber, regardless of current skill or experience. Some documents are appropriate for beginning transcribers, and others for those with more experience. NEHH transcription volunteers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and receive training before beginning on the project. Current volunteer transcribers include ministers, retirees, college history professors, graduate students, librarians, and genealogists.

Transcribing church records involves examining vital records, personal diaries, letters, sermon notes, pastoral meetings, and disciplinary cases. You can view a sample of a literal transcription below. By volunteering as a transcriber, you are helping to uncover new stories that can change the way we understand the past. Transcribing early New England records ensures that they will be accessible to future generations.

Getting Started as a Transcription Volunteer

  1. Please contact NEHH’s Transcription Director, Helen Gelinas: In your email, tell us a bit about yourself.
  2. We will send some basic guidelines and a link to a digital image for you to try transcribing. Feel free to ask questions while you are working on the document.
  3. The preliminary transcription will be reviewed, and the Transcription Director will work with the transcriber on any corrections. At this point transcribers can request additional pages to transcribe. 
  4. Completed transcriptions are published to the NEHH digital archive, where they can be viewed alongside images of the original manuscripts.