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"I have nothing to do here, but to take the Air, enquire for News, talk Politicks and write Letters."

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 30 June 1774

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Conjectural Dates

Assigning the document types concluded about a week ago. The last document type tackled was JQA's poems, which were many. Some late decisions were made as we did this; the original slips for some document types - like JQA's poems - were filed in two ways: both chronologically and alphabetically. In the digital control file, there is no need for this kind of dual-classification. The headings were brought over verbatim and we realized that we could get rid of one altogether and rename the other so that the document type, for JQA's poetry, reads just simply "JQA-Poems, Hymns, Prayers, &c." You can see the "before" of this in the image below in the "Document Types & Names" post from 11 March 2011.

We'll continue to fine tune some of the Document Types as we go along but it feels great to have that part of the paper slips behind us. The web developer added to the search feature a way to narrow your search to each Document Type, so this is an added way of getting at the information which you will enjoy once it is rolled out.

For now, we're working through the conjectural dates of which there are 6,338 records. What this entails is reviewing each entry to make sure that the most up-to-date and accurate information is listed in the date field. Dates were reviewed in Level 1 encoding along with many other things. Unfortunately, some of the dates that needed updating based on the proofing were skipped and now it falls on my shoulders to review the records, fixing them up right. There are other reasons why the dates came over from the XML but won't get into for fear of seeming too defensive. It's a combination, I think, of human and technological reasons though. I've gone through 1,900 as of this post so while it doesn't seem like I'm making progress I am. It feels very "corporate" as I'm moving papers from one pile into another.

The conjectural dates exist for a number of reasons including undated papers, mis-dated papers, etc. For these items the ace staff of the Adams Papers do their level best to assign as accurate a date as possible based on research, expertise, etc. Over the generations of editorial staff, some slips have gone through several updates and now, now is the time for correcting it all so that when you get access to it you can be confident you're looking at great, solid, right information.

There are not 6,338 errors, mind you, and fortunately I do go through pages at a time where everything is synced up.