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Editorial Practices


It is our intention, in the "First Century of the First State University" collection, to provide transcriptions of the manuscript documents that are easy to read, intelligible, and as faithful as possible to the original texts. In most cases, attempts were made to preserve not only the author's wording, but also the spelling, punctuation, capitalization and paragraphing of the manuscript. However, knowing that an image of the original document would be readily available for comparison to the transcribed text, we agreed on certain editorial practices for this collection, which are detailed below.

In transcribing late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century documents, it is sometimes difficult to determine an author's final intention due to unconventional spelling and punctuation, frequent revisions, and document condition. In most cases, the transcribed documents do not preserve the original lineation or pagination. Though the "long s" (ƒ) is modernized, shorthand (&c., for example) is not expanded. Words and characters superimposed on each other are transcribed to reflect the writer's presumed final intention. Though paragraphing is preserved, punctuation may have been changed to indicate ends of sentences or commas inserted for clarification. Some unconventional abbreviations, such as Predt [President] with Pres., were replaced for the sake of clarification. Crossed out words were not included in the transcription.

Brackets in the transcriptions always designate editorial intervention. They may indicate illegible material, reconstructed or interpolated words, or brief identifications or clarifications that do not need to be explained in a footnote. Occasionally it was necessary to insert a word in brackets where the writer inadvertently omitted one or a portion of the text was missing. These brackets were used sparingly and only where they seemed absolutely necessary.


The format of the original documents, especially letters, was emended as follows. Headings and salutations of letters appear flush with the right and left margins, respectively. Signatures on letters as well as those at the end of compositions and speeches appear flush with the right margin, which is their customary placement in the original documents. Postscripts written across or at an angle to the main letter, including postscripts written in margins, are transcribed at the end of the letter. Titles of compositions, speeches, or poems are placed to reflect the author's original intention.


Each manuscript document transcribed for the project includes a source description at the beginning of the transcription. This source description always identifies the location of the document by its collection name and number, a brief description (e.g., "Benjamin S. Hedrick to Charles Manly"), and the date of the document when known. Annotations from addresses, postmarks, and other information commonly written on the verso of manuscript documents in lieu of the modern-day envelope or enclosure are included at the end of the transcriptions.

Biographical information, if available, for a person whose name appears in a transcribed document can be retrieved by clicking on the icon next to the name. Biographical information is drawn from a number of sources, including but not limited to: Battle, Kemp Plummer, History of the University of North Carolina, 2 vols., 1907 (Raleigh, NC: Edwards & Broughton Print. Co.); Daniel Lindsay Grant, Alumni History of the University of North Carolina, 2nd ed. (Durham, NC: General Alumni Association of the University of North Carolina, 1924); Alumni Directory (Durham, NC: The Alumni Office, 1954); Connor, R. D. W., A Documentary History of the University of North Carolina, 1776-1799, 2 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1953); Henderson, Archibald, The Campus of the First State University (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1949); Link, Arthur S., A History of the Buildings of the University of North Carolina (Thesis, Dept. of History, University of North Carolina, 1941); and Vickers, James, Chapel Hill: An Illustrated History (Chapel Hill, NC: Barclay Publishers, 1985).

Informational notes identify people, places, and events that were known to the writer of the original document but might be unfamiliar to the modern reader. Terms, people, places, and events that can be found in standard desk dictionaries or encyclopedias are not annotated.