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Adams Family Papers : An Electronic Archive

Information about the transcriptions on this website

The Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive presents images of manuscripts alongside the corresponding transcriptions; this website is not intended to be an online documentary edition.

Sources of transcriptions

The foundations of the electronic transcriptions featured on the Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive were created by the Adams Papers Editorial Project, based at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

John Adams's autobiography

The transcriptions of John Adams's autobiography featured on this website were derived from the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, volumes 1–4, L. H. Butterfield, Editor, Leonard C. Faber and Wendell D. Garrett, Assistant Editors (Cambridge, Mass, 1961). For a description of the editorial methodology used in the creation of the published edition, please refer to the introduction to volume 1 (pages lii - lxii).

John Adams's diaries

The transcriptions of John Adams's diaries featured on this website were derived from the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, volumes 1–4, L. H. Butterfield, Editor, Leonard C. Faber and Wendell D. Garrett, Assistant Editors (Cambridge, Mass, 1961) and The Earliest Diary of John Adams, L. H. Butterfield, Editor, Leonard C. Faber and Wendell D. Garrett, Assistant Editors (Cambridge, Mass, 1966). For a description of the editorial methodology used in the creation of the published edition, please refer to the introduction to volume 1 (pages lii - lxii).

Correspondence between John Adams and Abigail Adams

The transcriptions of the letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams dating from 1762 to 1784 featured on this website were derived from the Adams Family Correspondence, volumes 1–2, L. H. Butterfield, Editor, Wendell D. Garrett, and Marjorie E. Sprague, Assistant Editors (Cambridge, Mass, 1963), Adams Family Correspondence, volumes 3–4, L. H. Butterfield and Marc Friedlaender, Editors, (Cambridge, Mass, 1973), and Adams Family Correspondence, volumes 5–6, Richard Alan Ryerson, Editor, Joanna M. Revelas, Assistant Editor, Celeste Walker, Associate Editor, Gregg L. Lint, Senior Associate Editor, and Humphrey J. Costello, Editorial Assistant, (Cambridge, Mass, 1993). The transcriptions of correspondence exchanged between John and Abigail Adams dating from 23 December 1786 to 21 February 1801 were derived from the unverified transcriptions created by the Adams Papers Documentary Editing Project during their ongoing work relating to the Adams Family Correspondence series. For a description of the editorial methodology used in the creation of the published edition, please refer to the introduction to volume 1 (pages xli - xlviii); and consult the introductions to volume 3 (pages xxxvii - xlii) and volume 5 (pages lviii - lxiii) for additional information.

For more information about the published volumes, please refer to the Adams Papers Editorial Project section of the Massachusetts Historical Society's website.

How the electronic archive differs from the published edition

The Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive complements the published documentary edition. The electronic archive presents images of the original manuscripts alongside transcriptions that closely represent the content of the manuscript displayed. The transcribed text is presented in the order in which it appeared in the original manuscript. As a result, some entries appear out of chronological order.

The published versions (see above for citations) present readable transcriptions in chronological order, regardless of the location of the text in the original manuscript, and provide annotations and footnotes with context and explanatory information. To provide access to the materials, the electronic archive allows users to search for words used by John Adams and Abigail Adams, while the published editions include indexes with name and subject terms.

For more information about the editorial method of the published volumes, please refer to the introductions mentioned in the previous section, "Sources of transcriptions."

Production of the electronic transcriptions

To produce the electronic transcriptions featured on this website, the Adams Digitization Project staff scanned the published volumes (listed above in "Sources of transcriptions"), used an OCR (optical character recognition) program to convert the images of the transcriptions into electronic text files, examined the text files (and corrected the occasional errors that occur in the OCR process), and encoded the transcriptions using an established markup scheme. The Digitization Project team used the XML version of MEP (Model Editions Partnership) a DTD (Document Type Definition) based on TEI (Text Encoding Initiative). (Please refer to the Glossary for brief descriptions of some technical terms.)

During the encoding process, the Adams Digitization Project staff inserted deletions and additions visible on the original manuscripts. This process provides transcriptions that most closely mirror the original manuscripts shown alongside. Also, the digitization project staff reorganized the electronic versions of the transcriptions of the diaries to reflect the original order of the entries within the manuscript volumes. (John Adams's diaries are not arranged in strict chronological order, and occasionally two manuscript volumes cover the same dates. The published volumes present the diary entries in one chronological sequence, whereas this website presents the transcriptions as mirroring the order of the manuscript volumes.)

How the electronic texts and images are displayed on this website

The Adams Family Papers: An Electronic Archive presents images of manuscripts written by John Adams and Abigail Adams alongside electronic transcriptions. A "mini" image of each manuscript page appears to the right of the corresponding transcription. Links to "small" and "large" images are found below the mini images.

The electronic transcriptions match the original manuscripts as much as possible.

The display of the electronic transcriptions employs a variety of features. Please refer to the full list of Display features for descriptive information. The the help icon (the question mark icon) located near the upper right corner of each electronic transcription links to a brief key to the colors and formatting used in the display.

Use of transcriptions and images appearing on this website

Information regarding the use of transcriptions and images appearing on this website is included on the About this website page.