Helping to Write Women’s History

One of the greatest challenges in writing history is reading handwritten documents from the past. Many times over the last few years I found myself cursing struggling with Sigrid Schultz’s letters.* Her handwriting was not great. Her use of punctuation was erratic. (I blame this on years of writing stories in cablese  and sending telegrams. Punctuation cost money, which meant you only used it when it was essential.) I managed her letters and notes in English and even French with minimal teeth gnashing. Banging my way through her letters in German was much much harder. So hard that I struggled with one letter for well over an hour before I realized it was in Norwegian, not German.**

All of which leads me to the National Women’s History Museum’s Women’s History Month project. Over the course of March they are urging people to help transcribed Clara Barton’s papers at the Library of Congress.*** The Barton transcribe-a-thon is part of the Library’s By the People public history transcription project. Here’s the link to the Women’s History Museum’s call to arms: . It includes tips on transcribing and links to the campaign to transcribe Barton’s papers and the larger By the People project.

Future historians will thank you.

*I hear snickers, maybe even guffaws, from those of you who have suffered with my handwriting over the years. You may have noticed that, thanks to my experience with Sigrid’s letters, I type most of my letters now.

**I do not read Norwegian.

***Barton was more than “just” a nurse. (Not that “just” should ever be applied to nurses as far as I’m concerned. The more I’ve learned about nurses over the years, the more impressed I become.) If you would like a quick introduction to or refresher on Barton’s life, you can find it here, here and here.


Come back on Monday for three questions and an answer with Dr. Catherine Musemeche, author of Lethal Tides: Mary Sears and the Marine Scientists Who Helped Win World War II.


Just a reminder that The Dragon for Chicago is now available for preorder wherever you buy your books. If you want a signed copy, you can order it through my local independent bookstore here: Use the special instructions block at the bottom on the order page to request a signed copy and tell me how you want it signed.

Many thanks to those of you who chose to pre-order. It makes a difference.


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