Douglass Day 2018 Organizing Kit

Prepare your local event

1. Suggested materials:

  • A room to gather
  • Video screen/projector
  • Speakers
  • Internet access
  • Enough computers for everyone to use

2. Optional materials:

  • Birthday cake for Frederick Douglass (share photos with us on social media!) Bonus points for Black-owned bakeries! 
  • Plates, utensils, napkins, etc.

3. Get familiar with the Smithsonian’s Instructions for the Transcription Center so you can assist people in your group on the big day. Here are some useful links from the SI Transcription Center. They take only 15-20 minutes to review in total, so please have a look! 

The Freedmen’s Bureau Papers Overview
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the FB
Our Peer Review Process

Transcribing Tables with Markdown (easy to learn!)
Get Started before or after Douglass Day!

4. Invite people to join your group! 

Guide for outreach before Douglass Day 2018

This year, we encourage all site organizers to engage their local communities to celebrate Douglass Day together—especially if we are at PWIs. We have provided an outreach guide full of suggestions for building these relationships. 

5. Make some noise!

Part of the goal of Douglass Day is to share the work of creating and preserving history—especially Black history—more widely with our communities. Making noise about Douglass Day in your area might mean posting on social media, contacting local/student journalists, or even going to community meetings, churches, and more. Your institution may also have a press office whose staff can help you craft a press release and/or contacts in local media. 

View our media advisory (.docx) and backgrounder. Please don’t forget to contact your campus or organization’s external communications/press office early to discuss strategies for sharing your event with local web, print, TV, and radio outlets. 

Feb 7 – Preview of Douglass Day Video 

On February 7, 2018 from 11:30 – 12:30pm, members of the Douglass Day team from the Smithsonian and the CCP will be online in a live video stream. We will troubleshoot the technology and preview a little bit of the Douglass Day program. The video will be viewable on the Facebook page for the Colored Conventions Project

Feb 14 – Details for Douglass Day and the Transcribe-a-thon

Program and schedule: 
(subject to slight changes)

Live stream:

The live video stream will be viewable on the Facebook page for the Colored Conventions Project. No account is required to watch the video. 

Learning to transcribe:

Smithsonian’s Instructions for the Transcription Center

During the live stream, the Transcription Center experts will explain how to transcribe, including how to find pages to work on quickly and painlessly. Due to the volume of participants, TC staff may not be able to get quickly to everyone’s questions. If you can spend an hour before Douglass Day becoming familiar with the SI transcription interface, that will be a great help to folks in your group. 

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:
  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. 


During the transcribing, we will go silent on the live video to let people concentrate. CCP’s in-house DJ, Dr. Clay Colmon, has made a playlist on Spotify: CCP Frederick Douglass Celebration! (Spotify account required)

Social media:

As your groups transcribe, share what you find using #DouglassDay and #FreedmensBureau!

We hope you’ll encourage everyone to ask questions, share cool phrases/snippets, or make comments on social media. Folks from the Colored Conventions Project, NMAAHC, and the Smithsonian will be available to chat on Twitter and Facebook. Our social media team will share any cool finds on the video live stream. We want to hear everyone’s voices! We always love to see great photos of history in action too!

Keep a tally of participation:

Please keep a tally of the number of people who participate in your group. We will collect that info after Douglass Day. These numbers help us acquire resources to support future versions of these events, so our big thanks in advance! 

Douglass Day 2019 + beyond! 

Our annual celebration of Frederick Douglass’ birthday and Black History Month will continue in 2019 and beyond. Do you have a project in the works that engages topics relevant to Frederick Douglass or Black History Month? If so, let’s talk! 

The Colored Conventions Project appreciates the support of:


The Colored Conventions Project was launched & cultivated at the University of Delaware from 2012-2020.