While I’ve heard of many crowdsourced archival transcription projects, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Children of the Lodz Ghetto: A Memorial Research Project is the first crowdsourced archival research project I’ve come across.
The Children of the Lodz Ghetto Project aims to find out what happened to over 13,000 students who signed the Lodz ghetto schools album in September 1941. Volunteers pick a name, research the museum’s digital archives, and submit their findings. The research results are then posted online after being reviewed by museum staff.
I think crowdsourcing archival research is awesome for many reasons. First, crowdsourcing in general is a great way for archives to leverage the power of the public. Another key result of projects like this is that it demonstrates what archival research is like, which can cause people to become more interested in archives as institutions. Before I was interested in a career in libraries, I had no idea what archives were all about. Had I known about archives back in college, I definitely would have dived into this field much earlier. This project is a great way to introduce students to archival research. A professor at George Washington University has heavily incorporated the Children of the Lodz Ghetto Project into her university writing class. Archives should be more proactive in teaching students about archival research and not just wait for teachers and professors to use archives in their classes.
I hope to see more projects like this in the future. If you know of any other projects that crowdsource archival research, please share in the comments!