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Home > Transcribe Minutes > Douglass Day

Douglass Day

Douglass Day
February 14, 2018

Join us to celebrate Frederick Douglass' 200th Birthday
with a Transcribe-a-thon on the Freedmen's Bureau Papers!
12-3 PM (EST)


Douglass Day Live Broadcast

Key links for Douglass Day 2018

Sign up to participate and receive any last-minute updates on Douglass Day.

View the event flyer.

Create an account at the Transcription Center.

The live stream will air on our Facebook page.

Browse the locations of Douglass Day 2018.

View our media advisory (.docx) and backgrounder (.docx). 


Join us!

This Valentine's Day, we invite you to a 200th birthday party for Frederick Douglass. Although Douglass was born into bondage, and never knew his birthdate, he chose to celebrate every year on February 14. We will commemorate his birthday by creating Black history together.

Douglass Day in 2018

This year we will feature a transcribe-a-thon on the Freedmen's Bureau Papers. We are delighted to co-present Douglass Day with the Smithsonian Transcription Center and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. 

The event will be streamed online in video. CCP members and NMAAHC/SI staff will be available to talk with you on Facebook and Twitter. We'll get to work in Delaware, Princeton, Washington D.C., and simultaneous events around the country and abroad. Let's preserve the long history of Black activism together!

How can I get involved? 

  1. Sign up to join us online: (sign up form).
  2. Find a participating location! (see below).
  3. Order a birthday cake for Frederick Douglass. Bonus points for Black-owned bakeries!
  4. Pass the word along — share, retweet and follow the CCP, NMAAHC, and the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Join the conversation using #FreedmensBureau and #DouglassDay.
  5. Host a group of your own using our self-contained Organizing Toolkit.

Where does Douglass Day come from? 

Douglass Day is a holiday that began around the turn of the 20th century. After the passing of Frederick Douglass in 1895, Black communities across the U.S. gathered to celebrate his birthday every year on February 14th. They celebrated, remembered, and protested against the threat of racial violence and attacks on their civil rights. Douglass Day may have been one of the original inspirations for Black History Month, shaped by Mary Church Terrell and Carter G. Woodson. In 2017, the Colored Conventions Project revived Douglass Day. Over 250 people came together at nine locations across the U.S. to work on Transcribe Minutes. (See the 2017 page.)


(From the Freedmen's Bureau Records page.)

About the Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project

The Museum has collaborated with the Smithsonian Transcription Center to transcribe nearly 2 million image files from the Freedmen’s Bureau records. The Transcription Center is a platform where digital volunteers can transcribe and review transcriptions of Smithsonian collections. The Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project is the largest crowdsourcing initiative ever sponsored by the Smithsonian.  

The Freedmen’s Bureau Transcription Project will allow anyone with internet access to research his or her family’s history online. The Museum began this project in an effort to help African Americans discover their ancestors and help historians better understand the years following the Civil War.

Useful Links from the Smithsonian Transcription Center

Freedmen's Bureau Overview
Frequently Asked Questions
Our Peer Review Process

Transcribing Tables with Markdown
Get Started before Douglass Day!

History of the Freedmen's Bureau

Congress established the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands in 1865 to assist in the reconstruction of the South and to aid formerly enslaved individuals transition to freedom and citizenship. Administered by the War Department, the Bureau followed the department’s war-inspired record-keeping system. These handwritten records include letters, labor contracts, lists of food rations issued, indentures of apprenticeship, marriage and hospital registers and census lists. They provide a unique view into the lives of newly freed individuals and the social conditions of the South after the war.

The Bureau was responsible for providing assistance to four million formerly enslaved individuals and hundreds of thousands of impoverished Southern whites. The Bureau provided food, clothing, medical care, and legal representation; promoted education; helped legalize marriages; and assisted African American soldiers and sailors in securing back pay, enlistment bounties, and pensions. In addition, the Bureau promoted a system of labor contracts to replace the slavery system and tried to settle freedmen and women on abandoned or confiscated land. The Bureau was also responsible for protecting freedmen and women from intimidation and assaults by Southern whites. The Bureau set up offices in major cities in the 15 Southern and border states and the District of Columbia. Under-funded by Congress and opposed by President Andrew Johnson, the Bureau only operated between 1865 and 1872.

The Freedmen’s Bureau plays a key role in the Museum’s Slavery and Freedom and Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation, 1877-1968 exhibitions. In these exhibitions, the Freedmen’s Bureau provides a backdrop against which we see African Americans resisting white efforts to deny them “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Freedmen’s Bureau records are also featured in an Interactive exhibition in the Robert Frederick Smith Explore Your Family History Center on the Museum’s second floor.

How will I find pages to transcribe? 

The Smithsonian Transcription Center has a feature that guides everyone to pages ready to transcribe or review. Here are the quick steps to find pages:

  1. Register for an account
  2. Navigate your browser to the Freedmen's Bureau transcription page: https://transcription.si.edu/browse?filter=owner%3A16
  3. Open a Freedmen's Bureau project by clicking on the square images or on "Start Contributing Today." 
  4. On the next page, click on the buttons to "Start Transcribing" or "Start Reviewing." If transcribing doesn't appear, you may need to find another Freedmen's Bureau project. To start reviewing, you will need an account.  

Participating Locations

To attend the transcribe-a-thon held at any of these locations, please contact the local organizer. All events will happen on February 14th from 12-3 PM Eastern Standard Time, unless otherwise marked. 

Browse our map to find Douglass Day celebrations near you

African American Museum of Iowa
Cedar Rapids, IA
Local organizer: Felicite Wolfe

Arizona State University
Nexus Digital Research Co-op & HASTAC
Ross-Blakely Hall Room 197
10 AM - 1 PM 
Local organizers: Elizabeth Grumbach and Jacque Wernimont
Twitter: @IHRNexus @HASTAC @profwernimont @EMGrumbach
Sponsors: Nexus Digital Research Co-Op, Institute for Humanities Research, Arizona State University College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Bates College
Office for Intercultural Education
Lewiston, ME
Local organizer: Margaret A. Imber

Bay Path University
D'Amour, Room 2
Local organizer: Courtney Weber
Sponsor: Department of Student Engagement and Liberal Studies

Boston University Libraries
Mugar Library, 302 (Estin Room)
Local organizer: Vika Zafrin
Boston University Libraries
Twitter: @veek

Boston College Libraries
3 - 4:30 PM
Digital Studio, Room 205 (O'Neill Library)
Local organizer: Anna Kijas
Sponsor: Digital Scholarship Group
Twitter: @anna_kijas, #BCDigSchol
Register here. 

Brown University
John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage
Nightingale-Brown House
Providence, Rhode Island 02903
Local organizer: Jim McGrath
Twitter: @publichumans

Carleton College
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.
Gould Library
Writing Center
Local organizer: Kathy Evertz
Sponsor: Carleton Writing Center

College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University
2:00pm to 4:00pm
SJU Location: Fr. Hilary Thimmesh Writing Center, Alcuin Library
CSB Location: Writing Center, Henrietta Academic Building 103
Local organizer: Kyhl Lyndgaard

College of the Mainland
The Speaking, Reading and Writing Center
Room TVB 1306
7:30 AM - 8:30 PM
No registration needed
Local organizer: Lisa Hacker

East Carolina University
University Writing Center
1015 Joyner Library
Local organizer: Dr. Nicole Caswell

Florida Atlantic University
Instructional Services (Bldg. 4 across from Chik-Fil-A)
Room 113
12-2 PM
Local organizer: RJ Boutelle
Spnosors: Department of English
Twitter: @FAUEnglish

Franklin Pierce University
11 AM - 12:30 PM
DiPietro Library Instruction Room
Local organizers: Dr. Melinda Jette and Dr. Sarah Dangelantonio
Sponsor: Humanities Division

Furman University
12-2 PM
Furman Hall, English Department Lounge, Room 100
Local organizer: Dr. Michele Speitz
Sponsors: Department of English
Twitter: #FurmanEnglish #beLit

Georgia Tech DILAC Lab
Skiles Classroom Building 318
Local organizer: Brad Rittenhouse
Twitter: DILAC_GT
Reddit: Dilac_Gatech

Grinnell College
Burling Library Computer Lab (lower level)
1111 6th Ave., Grinnell, IA 50112
Local organizer: Liz Rodrigues

Graceland University
Frederick Madison Smith Library
PC Lab 3
12:30pm-2pm
Local organizer: Timothy Robbins 
Twitter: @GUHumDiv
Sponsors: Black Student Union, History Club, Division of Humanities

Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Demarest Hall, Blackwell Room
Local organizer: Alex Black
Sponsors: English Department, Africana Studies Program 

Hofstra University
The Digital Research Center
Axinn Library, Main Floor Lobby
Local organizer: Keri Crocco 
Sponsors: The Digital Research Center at Hofstra University, The Axinn Library, The Center for "Race", Culture, and Social Justice

Howard University
Featuring the Smithsonian Transcription Center and staff from the National Museum of African American History and Culture
Interdisciplinary Research Building
2201 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC
Twitter: @HowardU
Sponsors: Department of English, Howard University
Local organizer: Martha Pitts 

Illinois State University
Writing Program
Stevenson Hall 133
11-3 PM (Central time)
Local organizer: Joyce R. Walker
Facebook: ISU Writing Program
Sponsor: ISU Writing Program

Kennesaw State University
Writing Center
English Building 242
12 -2 pm
Local organizer: Jeanne Law Bohannon
Twitter: @KennesawEnglish + @KSUWC
Sponsor: KSU Writing Center

Long Island University – Brooklyn
Library, LLC 523
Local organizer: Tamara Townsend
Sponsors: LIU Brooklyn Library, Department of English
Twitter: @LIUBKLibrary

Lorain County Community College
Held on the bridge between the Bass Library and College Center
Local organizer: Jewon Woo

Lorraine House
8:30 AM – 12:00 PM PST
Impact Hub Seattle
220 2nd Avenue South
Seattle, WA 98104
More info: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/lorraine-house-frederick-douglass-day-transcribe-a-thon-tickets-42836645560

Loyola Marymount University 
Department of History 
2-5 PM (additional times may be added, depending on demand) 
University Hall 3442 
Local organizer: Elizabeth Drummond Ph. (310) 338-2370 
Twitter: @LMU_History  
Facebook: @LMUHistoryDepartment

Loyola University Maryland 
Loyola/Notre Dame Library 
Twitter: @LoyolaLit + @lndlibrary
Sponsors: Loyola/Notre Dame Library

Marquette University
Raynor Memorial Library room 227
1-5 PM
Local organizer: Lisa Lamson
Sponsors: Ott Memorial Writing Center; Phi Alpha Theta; History Graduate Student Organization; Center for the Advancement of the Humanities; African/African American Studies; Center for Urban Teaching, Research, and Outreach; Sigma Tau Delta

Mass Humanities / American Antiquarian Society
Goddard-Daniels House , Elmarion Room
185 Salisbury Street Worcester, MA 01609
Local organizer: Molly Hardy
Sponsors: AAS and Mass Humanities
Twitter: @AmAntiquarian
IG: americanantiquarian
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/American.Antiquarian/

Metropolitan State University of Denver
12-3 PM (GMT)
Local organizer: Elizabeth Kleinfeld
Student Success Building, 230G
Facebook: MetroStateWC

Michigan Technological University
Multiliteracies Center
10 AM - 3 PM
Walker Humanities Building 107
Local organizer: Alexandra Pippenger

Northeastern University
Snell Library, Digital Scholarship Commons
Boston, MA
Local organizer: Sarah Connell
Sponsors: the Women Writers Project, Open Access at Snell, the Digital Scholarship Group, and the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks
Twitter: @NULabTMN

Princeton University
Carl A. Fields Center, 104
58 Prospect Ave, Princeton, NJ 08540
Local organizer: Jim Casey
Sponsors: Pace Center, Carl A. Fields Center, the Center for Digital Humanities, Princeton University Library, and the Department of African American Studies

St. Mary's University
10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Blume Academic Library
Academic Media Center 1st Floor
Local organizer: Camille Langston
Sponsors: English and Communication Studies Department

Saint Michael's College
Colchester, VT
Durick Library 246
Local organizer: Maura D'Amore
Sponsors: American Studies Program, Durick Library, Center for Teaching & Learning, MLK Society

Sam Houston State University
2:00 PM - 5:00 PM cst
Local organizer: Jeffrey Littlejohn
Held in AB4 room 204
Sponsor: SHSU Diversity Committee

SC Progressive Network Education Fund
Details forthcoming.
Columbia SC 29202
Local organizer: Brett Bursey

Seattle University
9 AM - 12 PM (PST)
LEML room #366
Local organizer: Hidy Basta
Sponsors: Seattle University Writing Center and Lemieux Library and McGoldrick Learning Commons
Facebook: Seattle University Writing Center

Social Justice CALL (Citizenship, Activism, Law and Literacy)
New Haven, CT
Details forthcoming.
Local Organizer: Lisa Monroe

SUNY Old Westbury English Department
New Academic Building 2107
Local Organizer: Jacqueline Emery
Sponsors: English Department

Texas A&M University - San Antonio
Central Academic Building (CAB 324)
12-3 PM
Local organizer: James Finley

Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
College of Liberal Arts
Local organizer: Sarah Salter

Trinity College (Hartford)
Raether Library and Information Technology Center, Digital Scholarship Studio (182)
Hartford, CT
Local organizer: Jason B. Jones & Christina L. Boyles
Sponsors: Educational Technology @ Trinity
Twitter: @TrinEdTech

Trinity University 
Humanities Collective
Coates Library room 103
11 AM - 1:30 PM 
Local organizer: Claudia Stokes 
Sponsors: Humanities Collective of Trinity University 
Twitter: @HumanitiesTU

Troy University
Writing Center
124 Eldridge Hall
11-2 p.m. CST
Local organizer: Patricia Harris
Sponsor: Troy University Writing Center
Twitter: TroyWritingCtr

Universidad Camilo José Cela
UCJC Campus Almagro. Escuela de Postgrado
18:00-21:00 (Madrid time)
Local organizer: Danielle Elliott

University College Cork
Food Science Building
Digital Humanities Active Learning Space  
4.30 PM - 7 PM GMT
Local organizers: Donna Alexander and Orla Murphy
Sponsors: DARIAH Ireland
Twitter: #uccdh

University of Delaware
Featuring the Colored Conventions Project
Morris Library, Room 114
Newark, DE
(Please bring gov’t or student ID for Library access
Local organizers: CCP
Twitter: @ccp_org
Instagram: @Colored_Conventions

University of Georgia
Main Library
Local organizer: Emily McGinn

University of the Incarnate Word
12-3 PM
Mabee Library, Library Auditorium, 1st Floor
Local oragnizer: Prof. Amy Gilmour
Sponsors: Department of English

University of Kansas 
Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities 
Watson Library - DH Studio (410A)
11am-2 PM (CST) 
Local organizer: Dhanashree Thorat 
Sponsors: KU Libraries and Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities 
Twitter: @idrh_ku

University of Maryland, Baltimore County
Albin O. Kuhn Library, Rotunda and Room 259
Local organizer: Courtney Hobson
Twitter: @UMBCHumanities
Facebook: Dresher Center for the Humanities
Sponsors: Dresher Center for the Humanities, Albin O. Kuhn Library and Gallery, the Department of History, and the Department of Africana Studies.

University of Miami
Richter Library, 3rd floor Info Lit Lab
February 16th* (Note this event will occur on Friday, 2/16)
2-5 PM, Friday
Local organizer: Paige Morgan
Sponsors: University of Miami Libraries
Twitter: @paigecmorgan @umiamilibraries

University of Minnesota
Center for Writing
Nicholson Hall Room 15
11 AM - 2 PM
Local organizers: Katie Levin and Jasmine Tang
Sponsors: University of Minnesota Center for Writing
Event page: http://writing.umn.edu/sws/douglassday.html

University of Montevallo
Montevallo, Alabama
Comer Hall
English Commons
Local organizer: Alex Beringer

University of Pennsylvania
Details forthcoming.
Local organizer: Stewart Varner

University of Puget Sound
Feb. 23
2-5 PM
Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching
Howarth 109
Local organizer: Julie Christoph
Sponsor: Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching, African American Studies and the Race and Pedagogy Institute

University of Southern Mississippi
Cook Library Room 110
11 AM - 2 PM
Sponsors: Digital Archives Research Group, the Department of English, and the University Libraries
Local organizer: Joyce Inman

University of Tennessee
Local organizer: Katy Chiles and Matthew Smith
UTK English Department
Twitter: @DouglassDayUTK

Vanderbilt University
Center for Digital Humanities
Buttrick Hall room 344
11-2 PM
Local organizers: Nathan Dize & Juliet Larkin-Gilmore
Sponsors: Vanderbilt University Center for Digital Humanities, The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities
Twitter: @VandyDHCenter @RPWCenter

Villanova University
Bartley 035
12-3pm
Local organizer: Karyn Hollis

Virginia Tech
11:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Newman Library 124 (Athenaeum)
Local organizer: Chris Miller
Facebook: VTLibraries
Sponsor: University Libraries of Virginia Tech

West Chester Public Library
415 N Church St, West Chester, PA 1938
Local organizer: Victoria Dow
Facebook, twitter (wcplnews), instagram (wcplphotos)

Westfield State University
Local organizer: Emily Todd
Scanlon Banquet Hall
577 Western Avenue, Westfield, MA 01086
Sponsors: Westfield State Experience, English Department, and History Department