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About the Transcription Project

Due to a lack of typewriters and computers in most prisons, many prison writers are limited to submitting their essays in handwritten format. We must convert all handwritten and poor-quality typed essays into clean electronic texts that can enable keyword searching to users of the archive. The "Transcription Project" is designed to allow volunteers to transcribe these documents into electronic text format.

Most of the essays online are only a few pages long, so fully transcribing one and submitting it for approval should only take one session. The transcription is then reviewed and approved by the project manager. Within a few days it will be indexed, permanently linked to the original essay, and preserved for long-term access.

We expect to be mounting a steady flow of new essays as the project matures and resources permit. A list of essays that need to be transcribed can be found here. If you want to register as a transcriber, please contact Professor Doran Larson (

Please accept in advance our sincere thanks for any time you contribute to this effort. You will be rewarded with insight into prison experience, how incarcerated people live, think, and write about their lives. It will also be a great service to the larger project of getting prison writing into public circulation through The American Prison Writing Archive.
(updated: 2017-02-05)