Entry  About  Search  Log In  help (navigation)
printable version

About Early Access Madison Documents

The James Madison Papers transcriptions that appear here on the Founders Early Access website have been checked and verified by the staff of Documents Compass, a division of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Readers should be aware that these documents have not received the scholarly work that makes the published editions of the Founding Fathers so valuable that Edmund Morgan of Yale University once described them as “the major scholarly achievement of American historical scholarship in this [the 20th] century.” The documents that appear in Early Access, however, have undergone a rigorous process of review. All of the Madison letters began with a transcription done by a member of that project’s editorial staff. Documents Compass has then taken that transcription; identified which original source to check against, should there be more than one; performed an oral tandem proofreading; entered the corrections; and added a note on the location (repository) of the original document, and whether or not the copy used was intended to be read by the receiver. What Documents Compass has not done is the scholarly work that ensures the authoritative accuracy of the documents, and lays the groundwork for the editors’ careful annotations. When the abbreviation ‘DLC’ is used within parenthesis, it refers to the Papers of James Madison at the Library of Congress. Readers may be able to access the original of these documents on the American Memory website. Please note again that the Madison Papers editorial staff has not reviewed the work of Documents Compass, and that these documents should therefore not be cited in formal research. When these documents are formally published, the Early Access version will be removed from the Early Access area and after further technical markup will be made available in the Papers of James Madison Digital Edition, to be released in 2010 as part of the Rotunda Founding Era collection.

Madison Editorial Style as Applied by Documents Compass

During the proofreading and verification of documents in Madison Papers: Early Access, the current editorial style in use by The Papers of James Madison was adhered to as closely as possible. The original manuscripts were copied carefully and faithfully. Archaic or misspelled words are retained. Underlining is preserved. However, superscripts, expansion marks, double punctuation, canceled text, interlineations, and line breaks or indents in the closing are not represented. A standard indent is used on all paragraphs, regardless of how the paragraph appears in the original. Repeated words are silently corrected. Where sentence boundaries could be easily identified, the first word is capitalized and a period is added at the end of the sentence. Thorns are dropped to the line. The placement of special characters, such as per signs, braces, and printer’s fists, is indicated as [per sign], [brace], and [printer’s fist]. Ligatures are reproduced as separate characters. Though editorial work must be done to resolve issues of missing text, uncertain readings of words resulting from damage, tape, binding, or blots are included in angle brackets. Square brackets are represented as they were found in the original texts. Text written in the margin is inserted at the closest point in the text. The formatting of tables and numerical lists could be only partially replicated.

Documents Compass Staff

Stephanie Finn
Hannah Holtzman
Angela Horan-Anderson
Chris Jackson
William Kurtz
Suzanne Morgen
Morgan Myers
Susan H. Perdue
Jon Schneider
Greg Seib
Susan Q. Severtson
Holly C. Shulman
Eric C. Stoykovich
Annie Swafford
Maria Thomas