March 10, 2020 (REVISED March 12, 2020) By the People Launches First Wholly Non-English Crowdsourced Transcription Project

Items in Spanish, Latin and Catalan from the 15th to 19th Centuries Showcase the Library’s Global Legal Collection

Press Contact: Brett Zongker, (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Brammer, (202) 707-9135
Website: By the People
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The Spanish royal seal appears on an order from June 26, 1741, as found in the collection. Law Library of Congress

The Library’s crowdsourcing initiative By the People has launched its newest campaign to enlist the public’s help to make digital collection items more searchable and accessible online. Herencia: Centuries of Spanish Legal Documents includes thousands of pages of historical documents in Spanish, Latin and Catalan.

As the first entirely non-English crowdsourced transcription project by the Library, this campaign will open the legal, religious and personal histories of Spain and its colonies to greater discovery by researchers, historians, genealogists and lifelong learners.

The Library of Congress acquired this collection of 15th to 19th century documents in 1941, and the Law Library of Congress is the custodian of the physical collection. The majority of these documents are briefs related to disputes of inheritance and titles of nobility, taxes and church privilege. Items of special interest include documents pertaining to the Spanish Inquisition, opinions of legal scholars of the Church, decisions rendered by the king’s courts on a variety of cases and subjects, and other decrees by Spanish kings and government officials.

The Library invites the public to help improve access to this unique collection of historic Spanish legal documents. With this campaign, the Library aims to transcribe the documents word-for-word, so that users can more easily read and discover these primary source materials. Transcriptions will help identify names, places and dates missing from the current descriptions, as well as other details still waiting to be discovered.

Anyone can join in via the project website at All documents are transcribed and reviewed by volunteers, and completed texts are published on to enhance search and access.


March 12, in English and Spanish

To accompany the release of the first phase of documents, the Library is offering a series of webinars in English and Spanish to support volunteers working on this project. The first webinar provided instruction on how to identify and transcribe the special scripts in the collection.

The second webinar will be on Thursday, March 12, and will train volunteers on what to expect at the upcoming Transcribe-a-thon and how to independently organize a transcribe-a-thon locally. Registration for this webinar is available through this event ticketing site: The recording will be available shortly after the webinar’s conclusion.


March 19
---UPDATE: On-site Event Postponed---

The on-site Transcribe-a-thon event is postponed until a later date. The Library will continue to hold the virtual Transcribe-a-thon on March 19. Be sure to register as a VIRTUAL ATTENDEE to receive updates throughout the day on March 19. Registration for the Transcribe-a-thon is available here:


This crowdsourcing initiative “By the People” reflects advancement toward a goal in the Library’s new user-centered strategic plan: to expand access, making unique collections, experts and services available when, where and how users need them. Learn more about the Library’s five-year plan at Other By the People transcription campaigns include the Rosa Parks Papers, the archives of women’s suffrage movement leaders, letters to Abraham Lincoln, field notebooks of folklorist Alan Lomax and more.

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States – and extensive materials from around the world – both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at, access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at, and register creative works of authorship at


PR 20-021
ISSN 0731-3527