Decoding the Civil War used the work of citizen archivists to decode and transcribe Civil War code books and telegrams. The materials used are a part of the Thomas T. Eckert Collection belonging to The Huntington Library. The collection consists of ledgers, military keys, and personal books that belonged to Thomas T. Eckert, a key figure in the telegraph industry and War Department during and after the Civil War. Decoding the Civil used the digitized telegrams and code books and created an interface with Zooniverse that allowed the public to transcribe them. The project was created based on the premise that there is general widespread interest in Civil War research. The creators sought to engage volunteers through transcribing and decoding historical material. Decoding the Civil War created public access and community participation to help historians further study communication and technology during the Civil War. The project provided new and creative ways to generate public interest and link together volunteers and historians through crowdsourcing. The Huntington Library, North Carolina State University, Zooniverse, and a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission are all credited in the creation and publication of materials used in the project.
Decoding the Civil War completed Phase 1 of their project and the transcribed telegrams and code books can be viewed online at The Huntington Digital Library. The web-based interface created with Zooinverse exhibits the research process, creditors, results, and other informational material. The original Zooniverse interface used by the citizen archivists to transcribe and decode is still maintained so individuals can view the process they went through to decode the materials. To visit the project, click the links below:
Access the project here: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zooniverse/decoding-the-civil-war
Access the transcribed encoded telegrams here: https://hdl.huntington.org/digital/collection/p16003coll11