If Harry Potter’s Hogwarts had been seeking a wizard of history rather than an instructor for the history of wizardry, the school probably would have been pleased with Dawson. He loved to probe arcane and forgotten sources—the more, the better—in his relentless search for truth, and his endeavors led him to accumulate an impressive collection of historical materials.
Since 2001, the Digital Humanities Summer Institute, held annually in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, has been an annual gathering of technologists, scholars, librarians, graduate and undergraduate students…and documentary editors. For the past three years, Jennifer Stertzer (Washington Papers) and Cathy Hajo (The Jane Addams Papers Project), joined this year by Erica Cavanaugh (Washington Papers), have offered a course titled “Conceptualising and Creating Digital Editions,” one of a rich slate of hands-on and theoretical week-long immersions into digital humanities.
In my most recent blog post, I mentioned that General Washington kept two diaries during the Revolutionary War: his weather diary (which he maintained from January to June 1780) and his journal kept from May to early November 1781. In this post, I want to discuss the latter diary.
Modern documentary editors benefit enormously from ready access to electronic databases that allow nearly instantaneous immersion into an ocean of primary and secondary sources. Much of what we find and exploit was the work of our scholarly forebears, many of whom were not professional historians. I wish to honor some of these easily overlooked and unfortunately forgotten individuals in a series of contributions to Washington’s Quill over the next year or so. A person’s influence on current editing at the Washington Papers will be my major selection principle.
In the years before he became commander in chief of the Continental Army in the Revolution, Washington kept diaries of, in his words, “Where & how my time is Spent.” Many of these journals have survived, and they have been printed in volumes I, II, and III of the Diaries.1 But during the war, Washington kept a diary only during two periods.
Though the project only began in July 2015, the Washington Papers is pleased to announce that our transcription of George Washington’s Barbados diary is complete!
Reading Charles Francis Adams diary entry for May 9, 1850 in the editor in chief’s office at the Adams Papers made me smile. With three brief sentences Charles Francis Adams perfectly described what we strive to do as documentary editors.
Among the special collections owned by the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon are nearly 500 documents written by George Washington. And not surprisingly, there are also some known forgeries, one of which is attributed to Robert Spring, and another of which is likely the work of Joseph Cosey.
By Prajeeth Koyada January 10, 2015 Prajeeth is a first year chemistry major at the University of Virginia. He currently transcribes documents for the Financial Papers Project. Transcribing documents for the Papers of George Washington has been both an enlightening and mystifying experience. For every “Caleb Gibbs” I uncover, a multitude […]