In a new crowdsourcing initiative, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is asking volunteers to help catalog historical documents and records in the Online Public Access (OPA) system. The effort is aimed at improving the speed and accuracy of the database’s search engine.
Users can help by tagging the historical documents with keywords such as names, locations, organizations, and key ideas. Volunteers must register and follow a set of guidelines, such as avoiding abusive and offensive terms, personal information, and any type of self-promotion. Tags will be reviewed by NARA staff before being accepted and going live on the database.
“We expect that crowdsourcing tagging will enhance the quality of the content and make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for,” commented David Ferriero, NARA archivist.
In the first month of the new program OPA documents received more than 1,000 tags from the crowd.
The NARA is no stranger to the power of crowdsourcing. In July 2009, NARA started a tagging initiative on its Flickr feed. More recently, it launched a crowdsourcing venture called WikiProject NARA which is asking for volunteers to help digitize historical documents.