The Citizen Archivist

The National Archives and Records Administration Citizen Archivist website attempts to have “citizen archivists” assist in the documentation of historical artifacts. Citizen archivist may choose to tag, transcribe, or edit articles. The goal of the citizen archivist website is to help make all of their records available online through volunteers.

The tagging feature allows for a member to tag different pictures and documents with meaningful “tags”. A tag should be some way to easily identify the document so that if someone is searching for a specific topic it will be discoverable. The tags can be anything from very specific to more abstract interpretations of the document. For example, when completing the “World War 2 Posters” tagging task a poster of a bee is available. Tags include anything from “World War 2 poster” to “bee” to “beware”. The more relevant tags a poster has the more discoverable it will be. In order to create tags the user must create a profile. The profiles help to keep taggers accountable.

Another task a citizen archivist may choose to complete is the transcription pilot project. The project is not currently available but through Wikisource a user can help to transcribe historical documents. The transcription feature allows for documents to become easier to understand and read. In many cases century old documents and artifacts can be hard to make out and understand. The transcription feature helps to eliminate that problem.

The Citizen Archivist website is a great way for historians to contribute to the development of digital history. It is a volunteer based project aimed at helping to digitize history for use by the public. It also allows for historians to actively contribute in the development of online historical archives. The ability to tag, transcribe, and edit historical documents is a win for both the active historians and the citizens archivist website.

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