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Barbados Diary Update: Editors Consult with Experts, See Original Manuscript in Washington, DC

By Alicia K. Anderson, Research Editor
October 28, 2015

Early last week, Washington Papers Assistant Editor Lynn Price and Research Editor Alicia Anderson joined Director Edward G. Lengel at a meeting at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, to discuss the project’s upcoming publication of George Washington’s Barbados diary of 1751–1752.

Alicia holds the palm-sized diary in her hand.

Alicia holds the palm-sized diary in her hand.

In preparation for their annotation of the document’s extensive ship log, the editors consulted with members of the Naval Documents of the American Revolution project—Dennis Conrad, Michael Crawford, and Peter Luebke—to address queries regarding 18th-century navigational practices and sailing terminology, which the young George implemented in vigorous detail across the journal’s pages.

Lynn and Alicia followed up their meeting with a two-day reading trip to the Library of Congress, where they verified the text of the original manuscript against their transcription, carefully prepared with the help of colleagues Mary Wigge and Katy Gehred, from American Memory’s microfilm version.

Lynn displays the carefully re-bound manuscript.

Lynn displays the carefully re-bound manuscript.

Seeing the original diary fragments, however—pristinely re-conserved since the Washington Papers’ 1976 facsimile edition—opened an even clearer window onto the account of George’s only voyage outside of the continental United States. Insights into the document’s provenance and preservation history from Julie Miller and Yasmeen Khan, both of the Library of Congress, further enhanced the editors’ understanding of this important text.

The Washington Papers will be publishing the first completely transcribed and annotated volume of the Barbados diary since Joseph Toner’s edition of 1892.