The Rotunda American Founding Era Collection Early Access project was conceived jointly with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities’ Documents Compass group, and the Papers of George Washington editorial project to provide scholars, students, and the American public the opportunity to see documents collected by the Founders edition projects at an earlier stage in the documentary editing process. The six Founding Fathers projects are the Papers of Benjamin Franklin, published by Yale University Press; the Papers of George Washington, published by University of Virginia Press; the Adams Papers, published by Harvard University Press; the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, published by Princeton University Press; the Papers of James Madison, of which the early volumes were published by the University of Chicago Press, and later ones by the University of Virginia Press; and the Papers of Alexander Hamilton, published by Columbia University Press. The final volume of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton was published in 1987. The other projects will continue to publish volumes until the editions are complete. The staff of the various Founding Fathers’ projects have been collecting original documents for many years. These documents are copied, carefully transcribed and proofread by experts, edited and annotated before publication. The documents available in Early Access are scheduled to appear in the scholarly editions, both print and digital, but the majority of them have not yet entered the final stages of the process, professional scholarly editing and annotation. The level of accuracy of the documents in Early Access varies, but all have had at least one initial proofreading, while some have received the same editorial treatment as a published version. Rotunda and its partners are making these documents available as a service to the historical community to promote knowledge and learning, but please keep in mind as you use this information that many elements of these documents could change as they undergo scholarly review, including such things as author and recipient information, proper names, dates, and the transcription of individual words. Once an Early Access document has been published and made available in Rotunda, it will be removed from this database, to be replaced by the fully edited version in the appropriate digital edition in the Rotunda American Founding Era collection.
☞ Unpublished documents are distinguished from published ones by the absence of editorial annotation, by the gray background, and by the footnote “This early release document should not be cited in formal research.”