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MSU to participate in national effort to transcribe the writings of Frederick Douglass


Newswise — On February 14, Michigan State University will celebrate the legacy of famed 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass by participating in a national effort to transcribe all 8,731 pages of his writings in one day.

Organized every year since 2017, Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thons aim to translate Douglass’s physical archive into an online collection of Black history and culture. Held on Douglass’ chosen birthday – since his actual birth date is unknown – the Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thons are part of Love Data Weekan annual five-day international event aimed at raising global awareness of data research, management and reuse.

This is the first year MSU has hosted a Douglass Day transcription marathon. MSU Libraries And MSU Digital Humanities Programhosted within the College of Arts and Letterswill provide students, instructors and community members with the opportunity to connect through an event bringing together thousands of participants in over a hundred concurrent events.

MSU Libraries African and African American Studies Librarian Eric Ponderwho helped organize this year’s Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon, said the event is an opportunity to reflect on Douglass’ legacy.

“Frederick Douglass was a seminal figure of his time whose impact is still felt today,” he said. “Taking the time to learn about his immense contributions to American society is a great way to honor and celebrate his life.”

Douglass Day was established in 1897 by the founding president of the National Association of Colored Women, Mary Church Terrell, to celebrate the legacy of Frederick Douglass. Douglass Day was quickly adapted by schools across the country, eventually helping to give rise to Black History Month, officially recognized by former U.S. President Gerald R. Ford in 1976.

Deputy Director of Digital Humanities Kristen Mapes shared his excitement for the memorial event.

“We are excited to come together in the spirit of a birthday party, around a celebratory table of cake and camaraderie,” Mapes said. “This is consistent with Douglass’s philosophy of creating a community based on humanity and action. By tasking participants with reading his letters and understanding what they say, Douglass Day brings history to life for all participants, at MSU and across the country.

The transcribe-a-thon will take place from noon to 3 p.m. on February 14 in the Digital Scholarship Lab classroom in the MSU Main Library. The event will include a birthday cake chosen by Douglass from Lansing Sweet Encounter Bakery, courtesy of MSU Libraries. Transcription will be done on the Library of Congress citizen science platform. Crowd.loc.gov. Although registration for this event is not required, participants are encouraged to register on the event page.

A subsequent event, the Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon, will take place on February 16. online workshop will focus on learning the fundamentals of Python and computational text analysis by analyzing previously transcribed works of Douglass.

Complete list of events celebrating Black History Month at MSU

Complete list of events celebrating Love Data Week at MSU


Michigan State University has been advancing the common good with uncommon resolve for more than 165 years. One of the world’s leading public research universities, MSU pushes the boundaries of discovery to create a better, safer, and healthier world for all, while providing life-changing opportunities to a diverse and inclusive academic community at across more than 400 study programs in 17 degrees. granting colleges.

For MSU news on the web, visit MSUToday Or twitter.com/MSUnews


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