‘By the People’ crowdsourcing project aims to transcribe legendary civil rights leader Rosa Parks’ papers

A Library of Congress’ crowdsourced project aims to transcribe legendary civil rights leader Rosa Parks’ personal papers. 

The transcription project, called “By the People,” is powered by volunteers across the country and launched the campaign to make Parks' papers more searchable and accessible online, including many items featured in the exhibition, “Rosa Parks: In Her Own Words.”  

The exhibition started on Feb. 4, which is the 107th anniversary of her birth. 

“Through By the People, anyone can explore, transcribe and tag digitized Library collections through open-source software developed by the Library to give all Americans new ways to connect to the treasures the Library of Congress holds,“ the LOC said. 


A Library of Congress’ crowdsourced project aims to transcribe legendary civil rights leader Rosa Parks’ personal papers. (Photo: Library of Congress)

Anyone from the public can contribute to the project on crowd.loc.gov

“Inviting, including and honoring the contributions of people from every walk of life is such a fitting way to honor Rosa Parks,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “By the People is all about individuals exploring, reading and understanding for themselves the significance of each item we have. These items are just as much about the day-to-day experience of one woman as they are about a world-changing civil rights movement, and that’s why we’re thrilled to invite everyone to join this project.”

The purpose of the project is for participants to learn about the relationships and events that shaped Parks’ lifetime of activism, her life as an individual and her experiences as an icon of the civil rights movement, the LOC said. 

Notes and fragmentary writings from the Montgomery Bus Boycott are available for transcription. 

“Through powerful prose, these pages reveal a woman who was strong, courageous, clear-eyed and grounded in her core ethical beliefs, but not immune to pain inflicted by racial discrimination,” the LOC said. 

The campaign also includes programs, invitations, flyers and other publicity material from Parks' ‎speaking engagements and events that demonstrated the evolving way Parks was remembered and honored by the American public, the LOC said. 

Letters to and from Parks’ mother, Leona McCauley; letters from her brother, Sylvester; a poignant letter from her father, James, and a large selection of letters to her husband, Raymond are also available for transcription. 

Raymond and Parks and her husband lived apart as they looked for paying work in 1957 and 1958, coping at a distance with the fallout from her bus protest and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, according to the LOC. 

“Participants can read loving, compassionate letters that reveal who Rosa Parks was as a woman,” the library said. 

Since “By the People” launched in October 2018, more than 12,000 volunteers have completed over 50,000 transcriptions, while more than 8,000 have been published on loc.gov. 

The Library of Congress, the world’s largest library, offers access to the creative record of the United States and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is also the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.