Our principle is to offer our best interpretation of the original writer’s intention. Thus, our transcriptions are “diplomatic,” that is, we follow the definition of M. J. Driscoll, “Electronic Textual Editing: Levels of Transcription” on the TEI website, “in which every feature which may reasonably be reproduced in print is retained. These features include not only spelling and punctuation, but also capitalization, word division and variant letter forms. The layout of the page is also retained, in terms of line-division, large initials, etc. Any abbreviations in the text will not be expanded, and, in the strictest diplomatic transcriptions, apparent slips of the pen will remain uncorrected.” Several of Occom’s journals have been emended in black ink or red pencil by later editors, who attempted to regularize Occom’s spelling, grammar, and punctuation, and who underlined names of persons and places. We have made note of the existence of these emendations and others, but have not transcribed them. Our rules for the key elements of representation, in the order Driscoll lists them, as well as other elements specific to this archive, are:
Spelling: We have faithfully reproduced the writers’ original spelling. Eighteenth-century orthography is unstable, erratic, and often phonetic, especially in holograph materials. Writers spell words and proper names differently, even in the same document. This creates problems in the tagging, searching, and annotation of person and place names; we explain our solutions in the User’s Guide. Often, a document will contain more than one usage of a word or proper name, which helps clarify it. In cases where this does not happen and we cannot discern an unclear word’s meaning, we have tagged the word as “illegible” and sometimes append a “guess.”
Punctuation: We have transcribed all original punctuation. Eighteenth-century punctuation is erratic; grammatical sentences are not always full-stopped. Occom, for example prefers to use a comma followed by a long dash.
Capitalization: We have retained all original capitalization. Eighteenth-century capitalization is also erratic and random; sometimes, the initial words of sentences are not capitalized but another word in the sentence is. In addition, it is often hard to discern the upper case form of some letters, especially c, g, m, s, v, and w
Word Division: We have retained the original division of words. Writers sometimes use hyphens, but more often do not.
Variant Letter Forms: The most frequent variant letter form is the long s, which we have tagged as such, and retain. We also retain the thorn (y), which we treat as a modernization, since it is an archaic form of “th”. See below for a list of the expansion of words that use the thorn.
Layout of Page: We have retained, as far as possible in a word-processed document, the original layout of pages, and ask users to refer to the facsimiles for the most accurate versions.
Line Divisions: We have retained original line breaks in order for users to be able to compare the transcriptions and the facsimiles and find their place in the originals more easily.
Large Initials: We have retained and tagged large initial letters of words.
Abbreviations/Superscripts: We have retained all original abbreviations, contractions, and superscripts, including titles (e.g. Mr, Messers). Eighteenth-century writers frequently use superscripts to indicate abbreviations. Some writers create their own system of abbreviations. Writers frequently punctuate superscripts with periods and/or commas, or underline them; in some cases, they do both.
Slips of Pen: Unless otherwise indicated on a specific document, we have retained all slips of the pen, such as: when a writer inverts letters (eg. “Ducth” for “Dutch”), writes one letter for another (eg. “beg” for “bed”) or leaves out a letter (eg. writes “the” for “they”). When there is more than one uncrossed t or crossed l in a document, we have noted and emended them.
Deletions/Insertions: We have retained all deletions in strikethrough type and roughly in their position on the page. Insertions are indicated with a caret either above or below the line. If insertions are written up the side of the page, we indicate this with a locating word, e.g. “right,” “left,” “top,” “bottom.”
Underlining: We have retained underlining, which appears as underlining not italics.
Dashes: Eighteenth-century writers use a variety of dashes for a variety of purposes. Rather than attempt to discern each writer’s intention, we have retained all dashes as an em dash.
Illegible words and letters, words and letters missing due to manuscript damage, or words intentionally omitted or left blank in the documents, as when in his journals Occom leaves a space for the name of a person who hosts him or a Biblical text from which he has spoken: These are tagged with the general category “gap” and a reason: blotted out, editorial insertion, faded, illegible, lacuna, malformed, omitted, page torn. If we feel reasonably certain about a guess, we include that in the tag.
Mystery words: These are words that are legible, but not known to us; if a word is indisputably spelled a certain way, but the meaning is unclear, we have transcribed it as is.
Dates and place information: These usually appear at the top of documents. If they do not appear, conjectures are included in the document information.
Writing by other hands: We have included dockets, the notation of author and date that Wheelock or his secretary and other recipients of letters routinely included on the side or outside of a letter for identification and filing purposes. Writing by later editors has not been included, but is noted.
Text appearing on envelopes: This has been included and its location noted.