24 June 2016

Want to De-Code Secret Civil War Telegrams? Now is Your Chance!

Want to De-Code Secret Civil War Telegrams?  Now is Your Chance!

This sounds like so much fun. 

As shared on the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) Facebook page

Here's your chance to help de-code secret telegrams sent during the Civil War.

With support from the NHPRC, the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens has launched of an innovative crowdsourcing project to transcribe and decipher a collection of nearly 16,000 Civil War telegrams between Abraham Lincoln, his Cabinet, and officers of the Union Army. Roughly one-third of the messages were written in code.

The “Decoding the Civil War” project is a partnership among Zooniverse (the largest online platform for collaborative volunteer research), North Carolina State University’s Digital History and Pedagogy Project, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

The Huntington acquired the exceptionally rare collection of telegrams in 2012, composed of a nearly complete archive of Thomas T. Eckert, the head of the military telegraph office of the War Department under Lincoln. The archive was thought to have been destroyed after the war and includes crucial correspondence that has never been published. Among the materials are 35 manuscript ledger books of telegrams sent and received by the War Department, including more than 100 communiques from Lincoln himself. Also included are top-secret cipher books revealing the complex coding system used to encrypt and decipher messages. The Confederate Army never cracked the Union Army’s code.

But you can help by joining in at https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zooniverse/decoding-the-civil-war. They are looking for 75,000 volunteers.

I felt it important that I check out the user experience for y’all (wink wink) and it was great.  You are first shown an overview of the process.  I found the tools very easy to use. There are a variety of document types and each time I clicked next I was taken to something different.

I am quite impressed with how far crowdsourced projects have come in such a short time!

Whether you have just a few minutes (you literally can do some of the pages in just a few minutes) or longer, you might consider helping with this project.

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