Do you want to help the Library of Congress by
making historic newspaper photos searchable?

Beyond Words makes historic newspaper photos searchable by transcribing captions. This new Library of Congress crowdsourcing project invites volunteers to use the Library’s website to identify cartoons and photographs in historic newspapers and enter captions. These crowdsourced transcriptions turn images into searchable words.

The newspaper pages that are selected and transcribed in Beyond Words are from Chronicling America. A resource beloved by genealogists, this website provides free access to digitized historic newspapers, contributed by institutions all over the United States.

I’ve written lots of posts about using Chronicling America because I think it’s a great genealogy resource. And now with your help making historic newspaper photos searchable, the Beyond Words project will make Chronicling America an even more valuable family history resource.

The Beyond Words pilot project also helps the Library of Congress learn more about what researchers are interested in and to increase the Library’s capacity for crowdsourcing.

“What I like about crowdsourcing is it gives people a chance to discover hidden gems in the collection. You never know what you’ll find poking through old newspapers,” said Tong Wang, the IT specialist who created Beyond Words during a three-month pilot innovator-in-residence program.

Making Historic Newspaper Photos Searchable

“The Library of Congress has invested a large amount of resources into building digitized collections, but some items with hand-written text, images, and collection-level-only descriptions hinder robust search on The Library’s first attempt recruiting members of the public to increase findability on our website began in 2008 when the Photography and Prints Division published a collection of photographs on the Flickr Commons. Visitors were asked to help identify people and places in the photographs, and once verified, this rich information was used to enhance the online catalog and improve access for all users.”

For more information about the Beyond Words pilot crowdsourcing application or to volunteer, click here. You can also follow progress on Twitter @librarycongress and #ChronAm.