Over 50s Lifestyle

I’ve registered to be an Australian War Memorial Transcription Volunteer

February 21, 2024

Last week I was watching the News and a story about becoming a Transcription Volunteer caught my interest. The featured news story was about This Valentine’s Day, a new project from the Australian War Memorial calling on romantics for help to transcribe love letters from the past.

I have some handwritten letters from my Nan sent to my Mum whilst she was in hospital. I also have some handwritten letters and notes from my Mum to my cousin. My Nan died before I was born and Mum died nearly 40 years ago, so it is lovely to learn about their every day lives through their words. This is a cherished photo of my Mum and Nan.

Australian War Memorial Transcription Volunteer

The news story captured my imagination but I was also surprised that apparently not many people can read cursive writing these days and that is why they were calling for volunteers who could.

I decided to investigate and googled the Australian War Memorial website where I found details on how to become a Transcription Volunteer, what was involved and how much time would be required.

The response from volunteers has been astounding since the public launch on 14th February, 2024. The website suggested that in just over 48 hours, more than 20,000 volunteers had transcribed more than one million words. That’s a lot of words!

How does Volunteer Transcribing Work?

  1. Register providing your name and email address. You are then provided with an account where you set a password and then have access to the records.
  2. Join a Transcription Quest – Transcription quests are a collection of digital pages/audio/video which can relate to a single event, person, place or time. There can be one or more quests available to transcribe on the website. Decide which one interests you and join in with other volunteers.
  3. Select a Transcription item
  4. Start transcribing


Transcription rules are provided so you know exactly what to do and each quest or transcription shows the level of difficulty. This is based on the hand writing or condition of the letter or document.

How much time does it involve?

The amount of time you give is up to you depending on how much time you want or can devote to the task. You can also take part in content reviews.

Quests I’ve selected

There are several quests I’m looking at including Nurses Narratives which detail 142 accounts of the experiences of the nurses during World War 1. Another, is the Love Letters quests although there are many who have signed up to do this one. I think the Nurses Narratives will be very interesting so have decided to pursue those quests first.

Have you ever done anything like this? Are you interested in history and the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things? I’d love you to share your story with me.

Sue Loncaric

Joining Wednesday Words & Whimsy hosted by Min from Write of the Middle.

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  • Reply Retirement Reflections February 21, 2024 at 05:06

    Hi, Sue – This sounds like a very exciting opportunity. I can’t wait to hear more about it. (I had never stopped to consider that many people today cannot read cursive writing.) <3

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:02

      I think it will be very interesting, Donna. I hadn’t ever thought about cursive writing and was surprised to hear people can’t read it these days x

  • Reply Bernie February 21, 2024 at 06:31

    What a wonderful glimpse into the past! And to have your own cherished letters is just wonderful. As you said glimpses into the past. Great that you can do the volunteer work without being actually there. I hope you can share some stories. Bernie

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:03

      I do cherish the letters of my Nan and I also have letters Mum had written to my cousin. I’m looking forward to the volunteering and hope I can share some stories.

      • Reply Bernie February 22, 2024 at 14:37

        Absolutely cherish those letters. The volunteer opportunity seems so interesting.

        • Reply Sue Loncaric February 23, 2024 at 08:39

          Yes, I’m looking forward to it. x

  • Reply Jennifer Jones February 21, 2024 at 07:34

    Hi Sue, I was so excited to see that you signed up for this. I started transcribing late last year, during their testing. I’ve worked on a war diary and letters. It’s a really worthwhile thing to do, so well done to you for taking it on.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:03

      I think the Nurses letters will be very interesting Jen. I still have to work out how to do it all but am looking forward to it. I’m sure it will be fascinating.x

  • Reply Darlene February 21, 2024 at 07:47

    This would be so much fun. Think of the stories in those letters.

    • Reply Janine February 22, 2024 at 06:29

      Wow Sue this sounds so interesting and thank you for sharing. I shall go and check it out. Isn’t it sad that people are increasingly unable to read cursive writing. When I was doing my history degree I interviewed and recorded adults who had been evacuated as children during World War II. It was absolutely fascinating and made me realise we have to record and document human experiences as much as possible.

      • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:12

        Hi Janine, I was surprised that there are those that can’t read cursive writing but I hadn’t thought about it really until now. I suppose everything is typed on computers these days and hand written notes of any kind are not as popular. We do need to write our story and I have a podcast episode coming up in a few weeks on this topic. x

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:04

      Yes, I’m looking forward to coming to know the writers as I read their letters. x

  • Reply Denyse Whelan February 21, 2024 at 09:00

    Snap! I have too. I am yet to hear back but looking forward to this very much. Denyse.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:04

      Oh that’s great, Denyse. I’m looking forward to it. x

  • Reply Melynda Egger Brown February 21, 2024 at 09:06

    What a wonderful opportunity! It will be exciting to learn about it in future posts!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:05

      Yes hopefully I can share what I’m doing. It will be fascinating getting to know the authors through their letters. x

  • Reply Debbie February 21, 2024 at 10:22

    I saw an article about this too Sue and good on you for following up on it. It sounds like a really interesting project to get involved in. Keep us informed of your progress!

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:05

      It really appealed to me, Deb and I think I will enjoy the experience. There isn’t any time pressure so that’s another reason I took it on. x

  • Reply leannelc February 21, 2024 at 10:27

    Hi Sue – what an interesting pastime to add to your other activities – especially when winter arrives and you’re inside more. There would be some fascinating stories in there and I’m amazed at the number of volunteers who’ve registered – our history will live on.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:06

      Hi Leanne, I’m so looking forward to this project. It is flexible with time too which will take the pressure off. x

  • Reply Toni Pike February 21, 2024 at 12:23

    Congrats, Sue – this sounds like a great activity

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:06

      Yes something you might be interested in, Toni as you are with your First Fleeters group x

  • Reply Suzanne@PictureRetirement February 21, 2024 at 23:33

    Sue, this sounds like a meaningful opportunity to be a part of preserving history, especially as society moves away from cursive writing. I can’t imagine it, but there will be future generations who have never experienced writing as we know it.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:07

      I’m really looking forward to the project, Suzanne and getting to know the authors of the letters. I was surprised to learn that cursive writing is something that some people can’t read. I suppose everything is electronic these days x

  • Reply Sammie @ The Annoyed Thyroid February 22, 2024 at 00:09

    What a worthwhile and meaningful experience! I hope you’ll be able to report back on what you’ve found out. And how wonderful is that pic of your mum and nan – that’s real family treasure.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:08

      I have several family photos which I’m fortunate to have and cherish, Sammie. My cousins on both sides of my family have done our family history and have given me photos and documents which I treasure. x

  • Reply Susanne February 22, 2024 at 02:33

    This sounds so exciting, Sue! I’ve been looking at transcription jobs but that was a lot less interesting – simply writing down something in audio format and make a caption or something. This sounds a lot more like what I’d be interested in, since I love history and stories about people. This project makes me think of the film “Cold mountain”.
    Another possibly related opportunity was talked about when I attended the graphic design class some year ago – repairing old torn, scanned, photographs. Not the same, but another way to dig into historical documents, just differently. I’d love to do something like that.

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:10

      I’m really looking forward to the project, Susanne. I think it will be so interesting seeing into the lives of the people who wrote the letters. I’m starting with Nurses in WW1 which I think will be extremely interesting. x

  • Reply Lydia C. Lee February 22, 2024 at 05:38

    I saw that call out. I love that you’re doing this! How fascinating. Like peeking into someone’s life….#WWWHimsy

    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:11

      I couldn’t resist, Lydia when I saw it on the news. I think I will enjoy it immensely x

  • Reply marsha57 February 22, 2024 at 11:29

    What a wonderful thing to do, Sue! And, you’re preserving these parts of history. I think you’re very lucky to have these letters from your Nan to your Mum. I do wish we had something like that. My dad didn’t know my mom when he was in Korea so no love letters there. I do think he’d written his older sister, but we don’t have those letters. I should ask my cousin if I could have a copy of them. It would be nice to have these mementoes of him.


    • Reply Sue Loncaric February 22, 2024 at 12:13

      I’m excited about the project, Marsha and there is no time limit pressure. I can do 10 minutes at a time or 10 hours at a time. I cherish the letters of my Nan and Mum because I never knew my Nan and Mum died so long ago. My cousins on both sides have done family history and provide me with photos and documents which I treasure. x

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