Can You Decode This Colonial Chicken Scratch?


We’ve joked in the past about how bad or unclear handwriting can create quite the puzzly experience. Well, if you have a knack for deciphering the scribblings of others, then there’s a gig waiting for you in North Carolina.

The State Archives of North Carolina are looking to transcribe dozens of documents from the colonial period, and they’ve turned to crowd-sourcing to accomplish this meticulous, Herculean task.

nc doc example

[One example of a crowd-sourced translation.]

Among the many documents are contracts, reports, records, and more, some of which concern local business dealings, and even the slave trade.

According to the organizers, “The handwriting can be quirky and the terms antiquated. Transcribing them will be like solving a word puzzle.”

nc doc

It’s an impressive project that has already attracted numerous volunteers, but there’s plenty of work to be done. And as you can see, some pages are in far worse shape than others.

You can save a few pages of work as a guest translator or sign up to be part of the team and contribute more to the endeavor.

For more information, or to try your hand at some freelance puzzly transcription, click here!

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