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Patrick Tegge ’14 spent plenty of time as an undergraduate history major researching old documents and transcribing their content for his research, so when he learned about an opportunity for him to help as a volunteer with the Smithsonian Institute doing the same type of work, he jumped at the chance.

“As far as the transcription process goes, there are many transcription projects you can work on that pertain to your interests,” he says. “This includes historic documents focused on government, biology field notes, letters, music and much more.”

His work involves the Freedman’s Bureau, an organization established after the Civil War that helped newly freed slaves and poor white farmers adjust after the South’s agricultural industry’s collapse.

“The main goals were to provide food relief, establishing school and education, providing legal counsel and other services to help rebuild the South,” he says.

For every project, a team of three volunteers transcribes and proofreads the transcriptions multiple times. “This is all done online using scanned copies of the documents and a transcription program the Smithsonian uses,” Tegge says. “Once all three people approve, it then goes off to a professional at the Smithsonian for one more check. I have recently started a new position in March so I have done some proofreading and am working toward getting time to do the first transcription of some of the documents.”

Transcribing the documents so they’re accurate and available online helps preserve the original pieces and makes them accessible to historians, educators and the general public.

Tegge, who was also a McDonough Leadership Scholar, works for The Ohio State University Extension Office in Athens County as a SNAP-Ed Program Assistant. Funded by grants through the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the role focuses on the health and well-being of communities. His job focuses on nutrition programming to children, adults and senior citizens who receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. The skills he learned as an education, history and McDonough student have allowed him to approach his work with the mindset of empowering his clients to make healthy choices within their reach, rather than applying unreasonable or unreachable expectations on them.

“We always tell our students that leadership is not about the leaders,” says Dr. Gama Perruci, Dean of McDonough. “It’s about their commitment to making a difference in their followers’ lives. Patrick certainly has taken this admonition to heart. He serves as a great example of how leadership can be transforming to everyone.”

Tegge’s Marietta experience prepared him for his volunteer work with the Smithsonian. His capstone project involved the Cornelius Ryan Archives at Ohio University. “In that collection there are handwritten notes that I had to read and get information from,” he says. “I feel that this helped in my current situation because reading handwriting is sometimes the most difficult part of transcribing these documents. In other classes, I was exposed to a range of historic documents that allowed me to learn and understand the differences in language used in different time periods. Most of these were already transcribed showing how this volunteering comes full circle.”

- Gi Smith