The Library of Congress Needs Help Transcribing the Papers of Political Thinker Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt shed new light on totalitarianism.
Hannah Arendt shed new light on totalitarianism. / Apic/GettyImages

If you have some free time and a desire to make a meaningful contribution to historical preservation, the Library of Congress has a volunteer-from-home offer that might be up your alley: The papers of political activist Hannah Arendt are in need of transcription.

The roughly 35,000 papers on the LOC website are comprised of personal and public correspondence from and to Arendt (1906–1975). She arrived in the United States in 1941 as a Jewish refugee who fled from the Nazi regime in Germany and France. Settling in New York, Arendt observed the totalitarian phenomenon through analysis and first-hand experience, authoring several books.

Her first, The Origins of Totalitarianism, was published in 1951; another, The Human Condition, arrived in 1958. While she never pursued tenure at any one institution, she was the first woman to be named a full professor at Princeton. Arendt also covered the trial of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann and coined the phrase “the banality of evil.”

While Arendt was staunchly opposed to antisemitism, not all of her philosophies were met with unanimity. Her 1957 essay “Reflections on Little Rock” argued against forced desegregation in schools, a seeming contradiction scholars still grapple with today.

Anyone interested in assisting the LOC with transcribing can visit the site. Scanned documents appear in your browser; you can transcribe the work, which will then be reviewed and posted.

[h/t Library of Congress]