New Crowdsourcing Campaign Focuses on Early Copyright Records

Issue No. 924 - October 7, 2021

By the People, the Library of Congress' crowdsourcing program, and the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, in consultation with the U.S. Copyright Office, have launched a new crowdsourcing transcription campaign, “American Creativity: Early Copyright Title Pages.” We invite the public to help make the Library's collections more accessible by transcribing over 95,000 title pages from the earliest printed works in the United States. From 1790 through 1870, authors registered copyright claims by completing a form at the local federal district court, paying a fee, and depositing of a printed title page with the court clerk. In 1870, with the passage of the second general revision to the Copyright Act, copyright registration was centralized in the Library of Congress, and the earlier records were ordered to be transferred to the Library. In 2020, the Library began digitizing the collection.

You might recognize some of the titles in this campaign, but many others have been lost to obscurity or were never actually published. These pages cover every subject imaginable from dramatic plays to religious texts to musical scores, novels, and scientific works. Making these title records more accessible will help historians and book enthusiasts everywhere better understand the printing history of America.

Get started transcribing and reviewing the new campaign. To learn more about digital volunteering or transcribing Library collections, explore By the People's Welcome Guide. Have questions about the campaign or how to get started? Contact By the People community managers at [email protected].