Transcribe William Brewster's Journals and Diaries

The Ernst Mayr Library has digitized more than 56,000 pages of the journals and diaries of William Brewster, a prolific ornithologist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  These are mostly handwritten volumes that are not suitable for Optical Character Recognition software.  To make these searchable and more discoverable individually, they need to be transcribed. Volumes are available for  transcription on the DigiVol platform.   Here are some instructions on how to get started.

First you will need to register at There are options to log in with one of your social media accounts if you'd like, and this is recommended  as you won't have to create yet another password for yourself.

Once registered,  begin transcribing. The volumes are here: Even if volunteers have already begun transcription, you can go to work. Click on the red-orange 'Get Started' button and  the first page in need of transcription will appear. There you will see a book viewer with a 2-page spread from the diary. Below that is the text box where you can type in text from the diary pages. If you get really ambitious, below the text box is a form where you can enter scientific or common names or geographic localities found on the page. With regard to formatting and general instructions , there are tutorials linked from the diary page. The most helpful are:  a tutorial specifically for Brewster diaries at:, and a general tutorial for using the DigiVol interface: It is very helpful to look through these before beginning the transcription process. 

More than one person may work on a diary simultaneously--if a page is being transcribed it is automatically locked for that user and other users will be directed to subsequent pages.

Here is a good example of how the diaries should be transcribed:

Joe deVeer, Ernst Mayr Library Museum Liaison and Project Manager

To see the completed pages, click on the “Validate tasks” button under the thumbnail image. There you will see a list of all the individual pages. Under the “Action” column, click on “review” for any page to see the completed transcription of that page. The 1900 diary is similar in format to the one linked above, so is helpful in showing how to format your transcriptions.

Thank you for any work you do on this. Every page helps!