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Michigan State University Celebrates Douglass’ Birthday With 'Transcribe-a-thon'

Courtesy of MSU Today

Today, thousands of people nationwide are coming together to transcribe the letters of the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass—8,731 pages to be exact.

In its eighth annual year, the event, named “Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon,” is held on Douglass’ birthday, Feb. 14. Transcribed letters are added to an online collection to preserve Black history and culture.

For the first time, Michigan State University is participating in the nationwide event, and hosting a “Transcribe-a-thon” at the MSU Library.

Erik Ponder is the African and African American studies librarian at MSU. “Through our education, we forget about some of these great American heroes,” Ponder said, “this is an opportunity to learn more about this person.”

Ponder said participants will get the chance to see history for themselves. “When we talk about history, we want to make it tangible,” he said.

The national program includes singing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ referred to as the Black National Anthem and reading one of Douglass’ speeches.

Ponder said there’s something for everyone, whether their interest is in African American history, digital humanities, transcribing, historical documents, or broader American history. “There’s so many different through-lines,” he said.

The event is part of the “Love Data Week” that pushes for raising global awareness about data research, management, and reuse.

The “Douglass Day Transcribe-a-thon” is held Wednesday from noon to 3 p.m. in the MSU Main Library’s Digital Scholarship Lab.

Lieza Klemm is a senior at Michigan State University, majoring in journalism with a concentration in broadcasting
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