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#185 In Our Bicentennial Year, You Can Bring Norwich History to Life

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Fun Facts & Stats

Welcome to the bicentennial year! After much anticipation, 2019 is upon us. This calendar year, we will be reflecting on the 200-year legacy of Captain Alden Partridge and the little academy he decided to build in Norwich, Vt. What better way to celebrate that legacy than to learn about Norwich history from its most foundational documents?

The Norwich University Archives is home to thousands of letters and documents that were received and written by Alden Partridge over the course of his lifetime. They date from our founder’s youth to the final years of his life, their content documenting a vast array of topics and events. We are thrilled that over 5,000 of these manuscripts have been digitized and made available on our website—but there’s a big catch. The vast majority of the documents—nearly 90%–are not transcribed, meaning that the treasure trove of information they contain is not searchable, and the content is largely inaccessible.

Last year, in preparation for the university’s bicentennial, the Norwich University Archives launched an innovative project to make the early handwritten records of Norwich history more accessible than ever. Cursive to Keyword is a crowdsourcing transcription website that can be found at It invites volunteers to help transcribe over 1,000 handwritten documents from the papers of our founder Captain Alden Partridge.

The NU Archives has been working with students and volunteers to transcribe documents one at a time since 2014. Transcription can help students engage deeply with historical documents and think critically about their role in shaping our understanding of the past. The new crowdsourcing website allows us to invite our students, alumni, and friends to participate from around the globe. We hope that with your help, we can accelerate the project to spread the word about Norwich’s storied history now that the bicentennial year has arrived.

Visit today to try your hand at transcribing a handwritten manuscript. We invite all members of the community to help us make Norwich history and Alden Partridge’s legacy accessible to all!