What is this project about?

The National Archives of Singapore (NAS) has many records that have not yet been adequately described to be put on our online catalogue, Archives Online. For the Citizen Archivist Project, we're asking for everybody's help in making these records more discoverable. At this moment, the ways to contribute would be to describe photographs, transcribe documents, transcribe and translate records labels, or transcribe oral history recordings.

  1. An overview of the Citizen Archivist Project
  2. Guide to Transcribing Straits Settlements Records
  3. Guide to Uploading Sound Clips for SoundscapeSG


What if there are inappropriate contributions?

Contributions are actively monitored and will be removed if deemed inappropriate. Users will be removed if they have been found to repeatedly submit inappropriate text. Users can also click the Flag icon to report inappropriate contributions (must be logged in to flag an item).


Will there be any more tasks added?

Yes, we hope to add different tasks in the future. Stay tuned!


What happens to the contributions?

For image description, after a photo has been judged to have sufficient information that it would be able to be searched by someone looking for its subject matter (a bit subjective, we know), NAS staff will collate all the information into the description and add the image and its new description to Archives Online. 

For transcription, once transcription is complete (barring some unknowns/comments), contributors can press "Submit For Review" and a staff at NAS will check to see if the transcription is reasonably accurate and complete. If it is, it will be marked as complete. If it's not, it will be put back up for contributions. When the entire collection is completed, the whole volume in PDF will be uploaded to ArchivesOnline.

In both cases, the display names of all the contributors will be added to the metadata on Archives Online.


Why do I need to login to contribute?

Logging in as a specific user will enable you to track which items you have contributed to. Moroever, you can mark items as Favourites. You can view these lists in your personal profile, accessible on the top right of the page. Contributors may also be invited for special events and asked to test new features of the site. 




I have questions/comments/feedback. How do I contact you?

Please email us at nas@nlb.gov.sg if you have any questions/comments about this project.


Describing Photographs


How should I be describing these photos?

Contribute what you know. Part of the beauty of crowdsourcing is that even if you don't know something, someone else might. Perhaps you know the place is at, and someone else will know who the person in the photo is, or in which year it was taken. The tone should be factual, not flowery. 

You can also imagine what words you would use if you were searching for this photo, and put them in your description.


I didn't experience any of these events, but I'm still curious about them. How do I find out more about the images?

NewspaperSG and the existing Archives Online database can provide more clues about the item. For example, if you know the name of the event but are not sure which year it was in, try searching the NewspaperSG database to see which year it took place.


Is the background information or dates accurate?

It is probable that there will be some errors in the text provided.


Can I order these photos?

Only the images on Archives Online with the appropriate Conditions Governing Access may be ordered. Once an image on the CItizen Archivist database has been well described, it will be moved to Archives Online within three working days, and you can follow the procedures as outlined on the Ordering page.


Transcribing Documents


Guidelines for Transcription

  1. Save your work regularly!
  2. Transcribe the document in the order you would read it. 
  3. What's important is are the words on the page that help make the document searchable. So don't worry about formatting, like underlined words, line breaks and so on (even though line breaks may help you get organised).
  4. Use square brackets for anything that's not a word. If there's anything you want to note down that isn't a word, like the presence of a picture, you can write your notes in square brackets like [picture of bird]. Or if you want to note a word you're unsure of you can put it in like this [read or reed?]
  5. You don't have to correct spelling and grammar or fill in abbreviations. The only exception would be to remove hyphens in hyphenated words so that the word can be searched. 
  6. Don't worry! If something is puzzling you, take a break, or try something else. Someone else can work on it! Reading handwriting also gets easier with practice. 
Guidelines adapted from the Smithsonian Transcription Center (https://transcription.si.edu/tips) and the National Archives of Australia arcHIVE (http://transcribe.naa.gov.au/). 
For a starter guide to transcribing the Straits Settlements Records, please click here. We also have a wonderful Citizen Archivist, Ms. Lee Yuh Mei, who has very kindly created a website here where she shares many helpful tips and invites fellow Citizen Archivists to share their own knowledge and experience.


What is the difference between “Save As In-Progress” and “Submit For Review”?

Transcribing may take time over several sessions, so the “Save As In-Progress” button lets you save your work. After you save and leave the page, later, you or anyone else can come back to continue transcribing the page.


You should only press the “Submit for Review” button when all the text on the page has been transcribed (barring perhaps a few words that are really hard to decipher). Pressing “Submit for Review” temporarily closes the page to any further contributions until a Citizen Archivist staff has reviewed the page. If the transcription has been completed, the page will be permanently closed. If there are still parts of the page left untranscribed, the page will be released again for public contributions.   

Can you tell me more about the Straits Settlements collection?

The Straits Settlements Records (SSR) is a collection of records relating to British administration of the Straits Settlements (SS) comprising Singapore, Penang and Malacca from 1826 to 1946. The SSR consists of several series such as despatches, letters from the Governor and Resident Councilors of the SS to the Malay Rulers, blue books detailing the schedule of taxes, duties, and other sources of revenue/expenditure of the SS and government gazettes.
You can see the list of microfilms of Straits Settlements Records that can be viewed at the National Archives of Singapore here. The Lee Kong Chian Reference Library also has microfilms of SSR and other related reference material.
Greater detail about the origins and descriptions of the various SSR series can be found in the publication: Guide to the Sources of History in Singapore, Vol. 1.  [library catalogue entry]. The descriptions of the various series are also taken from this publication.
For more information about this era in Singapore history, you can hop over to the 

How are you choosing which volumes of the Straits Settlements to put on the website?

We are still in the process of digitising the microfilmed copies of the records, so we can only put up volumes that have been digitised. Also, we try to choose records that are more legible. Some volumes are in very bad condition.


Annotate eBook

We are no longer accepting contributions for this eBook. The eBook and previous contributions are still available for reading. 

1.     What is the book about?

2.     How can I contribute?

3.     How do I annotate?

4.     How do I search for specific text to annotate?

5.     How do I search through annotations and comments?

6.     What will happen to my annotations/contributions? Will my annotations be published?

7.     Will the rights of images I submit still belong to me?

8.     If I wish to add on to someone else’s annotations, can I do so?

9.     Must I annotate in any particular format or style?

10.   How long will this project last?



1.     What is the book about?

This edition of the early 20th century classic, Song Ong Siang’s One Hundred Years’ History of the Chinese in Singapore – an annotated edition was commissioned by the National Library Board and annotated by the Singapore Heritage Society.

The original book, published in 1923, is currently out of print and contains historical and biographical snippets. The annotated edition takes this classic text and updates it with detailed annotations of sources, notes discrepancies where they appear and includes more recent scholarship on the lives and times of various personalities and events mentioned in the original version..



2.     How can I contribute?

Contribute annotations or any relevant materials such as information and photographs from trusted sources that you may have. You may include hyperlinks or attach photographs.


3.     How do I annotate?

a.     Login to the Citizen Archivist platform via your Google, social media, MSN or myLibrary accounts.

b.     Select the text or phrase that you want to annotate. The selected text or phrase* will be highlighted.

c.      Click on the “+” icon to start annotating.

d.     The editing field will open up. (You can click on the “x” icon to deselect the text or phrase)

e.     Insert your annotation. You may also attach photographs, include additional hyperlinks and video links.



Notes: You may only delete/edit your own annotations and not those of others.

 *Please note that you can only select a word at a time on mobile platforms. 


4.     How do I search for specific text to annotate?

a.     Click on the “Read” button on the landing page of the ebook that you would like to annotate. The ebook will open in a new tab in a flipview mode.

b.     Click on the search icon on the top right of the page.

c.      Input your search term into the search box.

d.     The results of your search will appear on the left of the page.

e.     Click on the search result you would like to see and note the page number of the text you would like to annotate.

f.       To annotate the text, return to the landing page of the ebook on Citizen Archivist. Enter the page number + 41 (to accommodate the 41 pages of introductory notes) into the navigation bar (for instance, to go to page 30, key in 71 in the navigation bar).

g.     Annotate as per (3) above.  


5.     How do I search through annotations and comments?

To search annotations or comments that have already been made, please use the website search bar located at the top right of the page of the ebook to be annotated.


6.    What will happen to my annotations/contributions? Will my annotations be published?

The annotations/contributions will be reviewed by the editor of the annotated edition, Kevin Tan.  Material or information deemed useful may be considered for inclusion in the second edition. 


7.    Will the rights of images I submit still belong to me?

The rights of images will still belong to you. But should the editor decide to use the image in the second edition, we will need you to grant us the permission to do so.


8.     If I wish to add on to someone else’s annotations, can I do so?        

Yes, you may.  Just highlight the phrase and contribute your annotation.


9.     Must I annotate in any particular format or style?

No, there’s no particular format or style required. However, information or explanations should be written in a clear and concise manner.


10.   How long will this project last?

This project will be for up for six months on Citizen Archivist.




SoundscapeSG aims to create a soundmap of Singapore, through crowdsourcing of sound recordings that are taken in natural settings. The purpose is to preserve the unique and authentic sounds of Singapore. Soundmaps have a historical significance in that they provide future generations an idea of what a specific place sounded like, at a specific time. 
We invite you to share and document your recordings of sounds that you feel represent Singapore of the past and present. With the constant morphing of social, physical and natural sounds, we wish to capture the rapidly changing sounds of Singapore. This is important for sounds are as essential as images, pictures or videos in identifying and even shaping Singapore’s cultural heritage and national identity. Sounds also allow us to appreciate what is unique to our society such as the mélange of accents which reflect our multicultural vibrance. 
Share with us your collections of sounds and be a part of creating Singapore’s very own soundmap. Any additional background information, such as the location, activity and time and date, can be included in your submission to help others understand the nature of the sound.
At this moment, we are accepting only limited categories of submission. We may include other categories of sounds and enhancements to the site in the future.  
This activity is launched to let the sounds of Singapore complement our shared memories and to serve as an educational platform for future research and documentation. Join us in preserving Singapore’s significant part of heritage.
In what format should my sound clips be?
The sound clips can be in the format of mp3, WAV, m4a.
Each file should not exceed capacity of 8 mb.
Must I own the copyrights of the sound clips I upload?
Yes, you should either own the copyright to the sound clips (e.g. you recorded the sound) or have the permission of the copyright owner to do so. Help us to respect copyright.
What will happen to the sound clips?
After you have uploaded a sound clip, it will be available for viewing to all users and will remain online at NAS’s discretion.
Selected sound clips will be added into NAS’s collection. As custodian of archival materials of national and historical significance, NAS collects preserves and gives access to archival materials relating to both individual and shared memories so that current and future generations of Singaporeans can learn more about Singapore’s rich history.
If your sound clips are selected for preservation, NAS may contact you. You may wish to add your actual name to the name of the collection or if you prefer not to use your own name, it will then be named part of “NAS Collection”.
What terms am I agreeing to when I upload my sound clips?
By uploading sound clips on SoundscapeSG, NAS is granted the rights to use the sound clips for any purpose including to publish the sound clips online, or in any other media; as well as to make a selection of sound clips that will be kept in posterity by the NAS. You also grant NAS the right to make the sound clips available to any person to be used freely. No fees will be paid.
What should I do if I wish to submit my clips without creating an account or remain anonymous?
If you do not wish to create an account but wish to submit your sound clip, you are email to us at NAS_AV@nlb.gov.sg. By sending the clip to us, you can either choose to include your name which would be credited in the description field or choose to remain anonymous. You also grant NAS the full rights to use the clips freely.