In the original letterpress edition of the Papers of George Washington on which this digital edition is based, each volume carried its own back-of-the-book index to the contents of that volume. During preparation of the digital edition, the PGW editorial team made the decision to assist Rotunda staff in preparing a single consolidated index that could be used as a reference to the entire publication.
Each volume index was digitized and converted to an XML format with distinct elements for entries, subentries, “see” and “see also” redirects, and page references. An automated conversion script was used to create a preliminary single index merging and sorting all entries and subentries for the entire set of volumes. Then the PGW editorial staff undertook the time-consuming hand work of editing and regularizing entry titles, merging related entries and subentries, and correcting errors discovered during this process. The resulting single index is being used not only for PGWDE but as the basis for index work for letterpress volumes in preparation, and is updated as each new volume is completed.
In the letterpress indexes, references are to page numbers or page ranges. In the digital edition, we determine programmatically which document(s) may be found on the designated page or pages. Instead of giving a bare page number as the reference link, we provide the full title of the first document on the page. In cases where a page includes more than one document, a + is added to the title to indicate that the text referred to may be found in one of the following documents. Clicking on a document reference takes the reader to the top of the “page” in the digital edition, where key terms from the index entry are highlighted to make it easier to locate the target of the reference.