About the Project

Transcribe is the Library of Virginia’s collaborative online workspace where the public can participate in enhancing access to many of our amazing collections documenting over 400 years of Virginia history, people, and culture. This is the perfect opportunity for participants to dig deep into our collections and transcribe historical materials from five to ten active projects at a time. From peace to wartime, court records to letters home, and conspiracies to political statements, there will be something for everyone.

Crowdsourcing empowers communities to make their own history; the Library – leveraging advancements in open source transcription tools and projects developed by our peers – supports this empowerment by inviting the public to be our partners in making our collections more visible and more accessible. Help us tell the narrative of all Virginians – the famous, infamous and even anonymous – and join us in Making History.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Dominion Virginia Power.


Common eighteenth and nineteenth-century abbreviations and their full spellings include:

&c = et cetera

inst. = a date in this month (e.g. the 15th inst.)

ult. = a date in the previous month (5th ult.)

Common “misspellings” and writing conventions:

attacted = attacked

do = ditto

evning = evening

evry = every

fiew = few

fs = ss (e.g. mifses = misses)

greaddeal or great eal or gread eal = great deal

perhapse = perhaps


verry = very

ware = were


Common Civil War abbreviations:

Adjt. = Adjutant

Brig. = Brigade

Capt. = Captain

Cav. = Cavalry

Col. = Colonel

Col. Inf. = Colored Infantry

HdQrs. = Head Quarters

Inf. = Infantry

Lieut. or Lt. = Lieutenant

Maj. = Major

Prov.Gen. = Provost General

QM = Quarter Master

Regt. = Regiment

R.R. = railroad

Vols. = Volunteers

Common name abbreviations:

Andw = Andrew

Jos = Joseph/Josiah

SD = son of Daniel *

Archd = Archibald

Mich = Michael

SL = son of Lazarus *

Augt = August/Augustin

Nathe, Nathl, Natl = Nathaniel

SM = son of Martin *

Benj – Benjamin

Richd, Rich’d = Richard

SN = son of Nicholas *

Chas = Charles

Ro = Robert

SW = son of William *

Jas = James

SA = son of Arthur *

Thos = Thomas

Jno = John

Saml = Samuel

Wm = William

*is of Welsh extraction

There are also a lot of Web sites available that list common historic/archaic abbreviations used in the military and medical communities.

Some links we like that might be helpful:

Contact us at makinghistory[at]virginiamemory[dot]com for more specific questions/problems or if you have some tips to share with us.

Have you been transcribing, enjoying the process, and wonder how you can help in another way? Find out more information about the approval process and how you can help as an approver.


Q: Do I have to register?
A: Yes, an account on Transcribe is now required to participate. This change was made to protect the work of all volunteers, whose time and contributions we greatly appreciate! Registering for an account will allow you to track your volunteer time and revisit items you have worked on. Please register for an account.

Q: I’m stuck! What do I do??
A: Just tweet to @LibraryofVA or use the hashtag #LVAtranscribe and we’ll respond as soon as possible. You can also email us directly at makinghistory[at]virginiamemory[dot]com.

Q: What happens to finished transcriptions?
A: Transcriptions of entire documents, once complete and approved, will be downloaded and added to our digital collections (http://digitool1.lva.lib.va.us:8881/R/) as full-text for searching and PDFs for download.

Q: How did we make the transcription site?
A: More details on the making of Transcribe are available on our code page but a huge thank you goes out to the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University and The University of Iowa Libraries.

Contact Us

Please email makinghistory[at]virginiamemory[dot]com for the quickest response to any questions or problems while using the site.