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Digital Crowdsourcing: Douglass Day

This guide was created by Sarah Petras in partial fulfillment of the MS in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2022.

Douglass Day 2024 - Wednesday, February 14

Douglass Day 2024 logo

Douglass Day is held annually on the chosen birthday of Frederick Douglass. We mark the occasion by celebrating and creating Black history together. 

This year we celebrate Black composers and musicians and join the attempt to transcribe all 8,731 pages of Douglass's general correspondence from the Library of Congress in one day!

All are welcome. Faculty members are encouraged to bring classes.

Schedule of Events

9 AM: Frederick Douglass in Five Speeches (film screening)

Registration required (limited space)
Learn about Douglass with this HBO documentary inspired by David Blight’s Pulitzer Prize-winning biography. Can't attend? Watch the film anytime using the library's subscription to Films on Demand.

11 AM: "The Legacy of Florence Price" (lecture recital)

Marco Pflanzen '20, Spiritual Life Program Coordinator, violin
Goodson Chapel / Recital Hall 
Enjoy a violin and piano performance while learning about the music of composer Florence Price, followed by Q&A.

12-3 PM: Drop-In Transcribe-a-thon

Smith Library, 1st floor
Transcribing the letters is easy to do, and librarians will be on hand to help!

4 PM: "The Fiddlers of Monticello" (closing keynote)

David R. McCormick ’01, ’03, ’09
Executive Director, Early Music America; Artistic Director, Early Music Access Project
Smith Library, 1st floor
Join us for Dr. McCormick's presentation on his investigation into the repertoire of Black musicians at Monticello, followed by Q&A.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a transcribe-a-thon?

A transcribe-a-thon is an event in which people gather in person or online to work simultaneously on a crowdsourcing project. 

Who can participate?

Our in-person event is free and open to the public, and anyone with an internet connection and a computer can help with the transcription. No prior experience is needed, and the platform is free to use and beginner-friendly.

Do I need to bring my computer?

Yes. We suggest one laptop per 1-3 people. Transcribing in small teams of 2-3 people can be a lot of fun! Or, people can take turns transcribing. Unfortunately, our project does not work well on mobile phones or small tablets.

About Frederick Douglass & Douglass Day

Presented by Library of Congress, #DigBlk Center for Black Digital Research, and