Opportunities to Volunteer from Home

April 13, 2020

Person typing on laptopWhile staying at home, are you still interested in supporting historically significant research projects or other heritage-related initiatives?

Below are some organizations looking for volunteers. One opportunity even provides a modest compensation.

The Lost Towns Project

Volunteer from home to preserve local history. The Lost Towns Project, in conjunction with Anne Arundel County, is seeking volunteers to assist with transcribing oral history interviews which document the African American experience in the county, especially during the time of segregation. Volunteers should have a computer with audio and an internet connection; we will provide training and coordination. Contact Dr. John Kille at [email protected] for more information. Check out African American Voices, Memories and Places: A Four Rivers Heritage Trail to see how oral histories can record local heritage sites that are may otherwise be lost.

Maryland State Archives

The Maryland State Archives is using the crowd-sourcing platform FromThePage to transcribe vital records, and they ask our friends, patrons, genealogists, and all those interested in making Maryland records accessible to help in this effort. This is a remote volunteer opportunity.

Projects on FromThePage rely on volunteers to transcribe displayed documents using a simple interface. For Maryland vital records this consists of a fielded form into which information such as names, dates, and certificate numbers are typed. Getting started as a volunteer is as easy as going to https://fromthepage.com/ and clicking on the “Sign Up” navigation button. You’ll give your name and email address and create a password for the site. Then just click on “Collections” and scroll down until you find the Maryland State Archives’ projects.

The first project involves marriage certificates from 1978. No indexing exists for this year, requiring a time-consuming manual search to locate a certificate. Marriage certificates are among the most requested records here at the Maryland State Archives. These records are needed to apply for a driver’s license, passport, Social Security and health benefits, a mortgage, and for other important life events. Women especially need these documents to prove name changes over the course of a life that might include divorce, remarriage, or death of a spouse. Marriage certificates are also very valuable to genealogical research.

If you have any questions about the Archives’ FromThePage projects please contact Liz Coelho at [email protected]. Whether you transcribe a few certificates or many, your participation in this effort will be greatly appreciated. Join the Maryland State Archives Transcription Team on https://fromthepage.com/ today!

Maryland State Arts Council

The staff of the Maryland State Arts Council is pleased to begin Accessibility Program revisions, and needs editors from across the state. Editors will receive modest compensation for the entire process, which includes two phases of editing over four in-person meetings and four at-home, electronic editing assignments. A Gmail account is necessary to participate. Editors must be a resident of the State of Maryland. The Maryland State Arts Council is accessible to all patrons. Submit your name and information online. Guests with accessibility questions or who require additional assistance may call 410-767-6476 or email [email protected].

Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History

Looking for a way to get involved in a research project? All you need is the internet! The Fossil Atmospheres Project is focused on understanding what carbon dioxide (CO2) levels looked like millions of years ago. Researcher Rich Barclay, a researcher from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, and a team of citizen scientists are running an experiment where they compare modern ginkgo leaves with fossilized ginkgo leaves. Their data may provide some answers to climate challenges of the past and present. You can help them study ginkgo leaves online.

Support Librarians and Archivists

Looking for other opportunities? Atlas Obscura provided a list of ways to help librarians and archivists from home. One option includes editing transcripts from public broadcasts. The American Archive of Public Broadcasting, a collaboration between the Library of Congress and the station WGBH in Boston, is recruiting volunteers to help tidy up transcripts of public radio and television programs seen and heard around the country. The FIX IT+ initiative asks participants to comb through computer-generated transcripts and correct the mistakes, making it easier to search, say, a conversation with James Baldwin, or a visit to a soap company in upstate New York. Several thousand programs, spanning 60 years, are still waiting for someone’s eyes, ears, and fast-typing fingers.

If your organization has any opportunities for volunteers to work from home, let us know! Email us at [email protected].

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