You Can Help Transcribe a Historic DC-Area Black Newspaper

If you have always wanted to get a peek at the Smithsonian’s archives, now you can- at least digitally. The Smithsonian Transcription Center engages digital volunteers to transcribe documents in the collections of different Smithsonian-affiliated institutions. One of the Transcription Center’s current projects focuses on the New Negro Opinion held at the Anacostia Community Museum.

The New Negro Opinion was a DC-based weekly newspaper started in 1933 by the New Negro Alliance. The Alliance formed in response to a workplace discrimination case in which Black workers were fired from a restaurant and replaced with an all-white staff. Using pickets and protests, the organization successfully got the Black workers re-hired with better terms. The New Negro Opinion covered all the of the Alliance’s actions.

Another transcription project features pamphlets from the archives of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The pamphlets currently being transcribed are editions of The Negro Worker, the organ of the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers. This organization was part of the Communist Third International’s efforts to organize the Black working class. These pamphlets reveal important relationships between African Americans, the Communist Party, and the radical Left.

Since 2013, volunteers have transcribed over 500,000 pages from the Smithsonian’s collections. These text and audio transcriptions not only preserve these documents for the future, but make the collections more accessible. Transcription Center volunteers have also discovered stories in the archives of underrepresented groups that have broadened our vision of the past.

Visit the Transcription Center’s site to begin transcribing.