The #PalmerTravelJournal Challenge - CSPM

The #PalmerTravelJournal Challenge

Paleography: The study of ancient writing systems and the deciphering and dating of historical manuscripts
Transcription: Noun – A written or printed representation of something; Verb – The action or process of transcribing something

Photo of General William Jackson Palmer
General William Jackson Palmer, 1871

The manuscript collections in the Archives of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum are filled with resources that reveal the richly diverse history and culture of the Pikes Peak Region. These collections include handwritten letters, journals, diaries, ledgers, receipts, research notes, and more. Transcribing these primary sources allows them to be more useful to researchers and staff alike. Would you like to help make these unique materials more accessible? How about starting with helping us transcribe the Honeymoon Journal of Queen and William Jackson Palmer.

Photo of Queen Palmer
Mary Lincoln "Queen" Palmer, 1872

Mary Lincoln “Queen” Mellen and General William Jackson Palmer were married on November 8, 1870. The next day, they boarded a steamer ship bound from New York to Liverpool, England on their honeymoon. The journal they created together about their travels is an invaluable resource that can tell us more about the Palmer Family, travel in the late nineteenth century, and much, much more! Want to help?

Every Tuesday, the CSPM will post a new journal entry from the Palmer journal on our Facebook page with a link to our website. Transcribe the handwriting and send it to us at

  • Compare words and letters throughout the page to confirm you are reading the text correctly.
  • Consider the context, how can the rest of the story help you figure out a difficult word?
  • If you are stuck on a word, just write [illegible] and then move on to the next word.
  • Have fun! If you don’t get a word right, no need to worry! We are crowd-sourcing these transcriptions so that together – we will figure out all the words. Archivists and curators do this as well, we have multiple people transcribe the same historic document to ensure accuracy.

View an image and PDF of each page below

Thank you to all who have submitted transcriptions of the Palmer Travel Journal. We will be collating your submissions to create a complete transcription of the journal -- to be released at the end of this project. In the meantime, here are some of our favorite bits from the journal so far.

Page 1 – Wednesday to Sunday, November 9 through November 19
Transcription by Gail Winters

“Sailed from New York on the Scotia (it being the last trip of the Captain Judkins) for Liverpool at 4 p.m. after bidding good bye to our friends. . . . On the morning of the 19 we sent letters and ashore at Queenstown and after an unusually fine passage of the Irish Sea, we reached Liverpool on the morning of the 20th at 8 o’clock.”

Page 2 – Monday, November 21
Transcription by Mary Ann Poseneau

“We awoke in our apartments in London + looked out on Buckingham Palace and after a nice little breakfast had a call from Col. Gounam + Dr Bell with whom Will had britings concerning the Denver + Rio Grande Railway Scheme for 5 hours – during which I wrote a long letter to Mother at Flushing.”

Page 3 – Wednesday, November 23
Transcription by Fran Worthington

“Dr. W A Bell and his mother called and took us driving along the Victoria Embankment. (Thame Embkmnt) _ paping houses of Parliament Westminster Abbey & Hall, – and past the beautiful Waterloo Bridge and several other fine bridges across the Thame.”

Page 4 – Thursday, November 24
Transcription by Anna Isherwood

“Found note from Miss King waiting Col and Mrs Gerrard called before we got through with our late breakfast. The Col and Will had a business talk and then Mrs Gerrard Queen and Will rode out to Bond and Regent and Oxford street shopping then to the Queen’s stables. Then to the Pall Mall restaurant for a lunch of coppery oysters (not broiled) and thence to the London joint stock Bk where Will wished to cash his letter of credit.”

Page 5 – Friday, November 25
Transcription by John Orsborn

“Queen slightly unwell. Remained at home to rest in morning. Dr. Bell Jr. and Mrs. Gourand called. – Wrote up our diary & (illegible) referred to guide Books. Mrs. King not coming as expected. She drove out with Mrs. Gourand and Will went down town – Mrs. Gourand dined with us at 5 oclock, and at 8 we went to the theatre – (illegible) market) and saw “The Palace of Truth” and “My Uncle’s Will” – both of which were excellent, especially the latter – which was one of the most sparkling witty things I ever saw. “