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Sunshine Week Transcription Challenge

March 10 marks the beginning of Sunshine Week 2019! While every day is a celebration of information access at the National Archives, Sunshine Week is an annual nationwide event celebrating freedom of information and open government.

To celebrate this year, we’re hosting a special citizen archivist mission focusing on transcription of two historically important civil rights cases held at the National Archives at Atlanta: Browder v. Gayle and Williams v. Wallace.

Browder V. Gayle
This case file contains documents resulting from a Federal court suit that challenged segregation within Montgomery, Alabama's public transportation system. The case is renowned for its relation to the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, a pivotal event in the Civil Rights Movement. Although not a party to the case, Rosa Parks' arrest record and fingerprints are exhibits to the case.

The fingerprint card of Rosa Parks was produced in association with her arrest for refusing to obey orders of a bus driver on December 1, 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama. National Archives Identifier 279205

The plaintiffs in this case were Aurelia Browder, Susie McDonald, Claudette Colvin, and Mary Louise Smith, all of whom had been either arrested for refusing to give up their seats to white passengers or physically harmed by being forced to comply with segregation codes. In this case, the three judge panel ruled the Montgomery segregation codes unconstitutional for violating the 14th Amendment due process and equal protection clauses. The U.S. Supreme Court later affirmed the District Court's judgment.

The case is well known in civil rights history because it made famous 25-year-old Montgomery minister Martin Luther King, Jr.  King was president of the Montgomery Improvement Association that led the 1955 bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.

Williams v. Wallace
The publicity surrounding this lawsuit is considered pivotal in inspiring Congress to pass the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Photograph of John Lewis, Hosea Williams, Andrew Young and Amelia Boynton Praying before Bloody Sunday, National Archives Identifier 16898979

This class action lawsuit pertains to the 1965 march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery, Alabama in support of voting rights. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) attempted to lead a protest march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma. The march was brutally opposed and halted by state and local law enforcement officials. This resulted in a class action lawsuit brought by three named plaintiffs: Hosea Williams, John Lewis, and Amelia Boynton. After hearings before Judge Frank M. Johnson, the Court approved a carefully planned and guarded march from Selma to Montgomery using one half of the four-lane highway. This case includes court filings relating to and testimony of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Why transcribe a typed record?
Transcription is an important way for us to improve search results and increase accessibility to our historical records. Since many of the documents at the National Archives are handwritten records such as letters, memos, and reports, the words within those documents are not picked up by a search in our Catalog. Typewritten records can be searched in some cases using OCR (Optical Character Recognition), but OCR-extracted text is seldom as accurate as manual transcription.  When you transcribe (or type out) exactly what you see in the document, that text becomes searchable in the National Archives Catalog for all users. 
These two cases are available to transcribe now!

We are challenging our citizen archivists to completely transcribe these two historic civil rights cases during Sunshine Week, making them more accessible and discoverable. Together, they make up more than 1,800 pages. How many pages can you transcribe? 
Get Started Transcribing!

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