North Carolina State Archives Needs Help Deciphering Handwriting In Old Documents

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Gabrielle Temaat Contributor
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The North Carolina State Archives is unable to decipher hundreds of old documents described as “colonial chicken scratch” and is seeking help, according to WRAL.

The state uploaded the documents to a website called Transcribe NC so that volunteers could help transcribe them. The site urges volunteers to “Help improve access to historic documents by transcribing lists, forms, diaries, letters, and other materials from the collections of the State Archives of North Carolina.” It also offers information on how to properly decipher the old writing, The Virginian-Pilot reported. (RELATED: Rare Copy Of Declaration Of Independence Found In British Archives)

The State Archives of North Carolina also took to Facebook to ask for help.

The post states that “The handwriting can be quirky and the terms antiquated. Transcribing them will be like solving a word puzzle, and we have online resources to help you get started.”

Outreach coordinator for the North Carolina State Archives Adrienne Berney stated, “Seventeenth and 18th-century handwriting can be very difficult for us to decipher — especially for 21st-century students, many of whom never learned cursive”, according to WRAL. Archivist Marie Stark called the old handwriting “colonial chicken scratch”, The Virginian-Pilot reported. (RELATED: National Archives Debunk Biden’s Claim, Says Senate Docs Related To Tara Reade Are Kept Elsewhere)

Some of the documents are court records dating back to before the Revolutionary War. Others are treaties with Native Americans, slave trade records, and letters from both World Wars, WRAL reported.

After volunteers have taken a stab at decoding the documents, experts will verify that the transcriptions are correct, according to The Virginian-Pilot.