Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents

I’ve been AWOL from my blog this past month. A fascinating project came to my attention from the Law Library of Congress and I had to give it my best try. Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents is a priceless collection of Spanish Legal Documents from the year 1300 to 1800. These documents need to be transcribed, tagged and reviewed as part of the digitization process. Anyone can help. You don’t need to be able to understand the language because you type what you see, whether it is Spanish, Latin or Catalan.

Go to the following website for more information: Everyone is welcome to take part in transcription and tagging and to give feedback about how they can improve the code base and the project itself. The website is called By the People and runs on Concordia, new open source software developed by the Library of Congress to power crowdsourced transcription projects.

You may have a little problem with the diacritics but I solved that by inserting the most common vowels with accent marks in a MS Word document, and then copying and pasting them where needed in the online document.

You can also change your Google Chrome settings to Spanish (Spain). However, that didn’t work for me. There are also Alt+numbers that most keyboards can interpret. Again, my cranky laptop balked at that. (You may also know that on some keyboards, the two Alt keys have different functions.) Tech support behind the campaign is working on additional solutions for those who don’t have a Spanish keyboard.

This is a great challenge to keep your brain sharp, though a little taxing over the first few pages. It’s so worthwhile to do something that will benefit thousands of researchers instead of wasting our energy becoming increasingly dismayed at the direction our society is being forcibly and wrongly channeled. (Hint: Read Orwell’s 1984.)

I was surprised and pleased that my hands had enough muscle memory to remember how to type in Spanish. It’s been 36 years and it’s a whole different process than it is in English.

Additional current transcription campaigns include:

  • Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words
  • Suffrage: Women Fight for the Vote
  • Anna E. Dickinson Papers
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton Papers
  • Clara Barton “Angel of the Battlefield” 
  • Walt Whitman at 200
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • Mary Church Terrell: Advocate for African Americans and Women
  • Letters to Lincoln
  • Civil War
  • Carrie Chapman Catt Papers, and
  • The Man Who Recorded the World: On the Road with Alan Lomax.

Other campaigns are nearing completion due to the dedicated participation of many volunteers.

Disclaimer: My blog posts are statements of opinion only. I am not in the business of giving financial, legal, medical, or any other type of advice. See Terms of Use and Disclaimer for further disclaimers.

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