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Browsing: Early Diary of John Adams, Volume 1


Editorial Method and Apparatus
Editorial Method and Apparatus

Editorial Method and Apparatus

Editorial Method and Apparatus

The editorial method followed in The Earliest Diary of John Adams has, with slight modifications to be noted, been that followed in other parts of The Adams Papers . That method has been explained fully in the Introduction to the Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 1:lii–lxii, and is not repeated in this small volume already overburdened with editorial matter.
In view of the nature of the material to be presented, several modifications of standing Adams Papers editorial policy have seemed essential or at least very desirable. First, and most important, all the entries have been printed in the physical order in which they stand in the MS . Although we have been successful in dating most of the entries approximately, very few beyond those that John Adams wrote and dated at Harvard can be dated exactly. Any attempt to rearrange the undated entries according to our conjectural dates would, for one thing, be impossible to carry out completely; for another, it would deprive readers of some part of the evidence on which our conjectures—or better ones—must rest. We have preferred to have readers see the jumbled Diary Fragment as nearly as possible as it was when it came from John Adams’ hand. As an aid to this end, as already noted, the (editorially supplied) page numbers of the MS have been inserted throughout the text inside distinctive brackets: { }.
In another respect, however, after due reflection, we have infringed on the principle just stated. We have inserted our own captions for entries that in the MS have none. These captions are enclosed in conventional square brackets and consist of appropriate titles and conjectural dates. The dates are to be considered in all cases as approximate.
Finally, in dealing with matter canceled by the diarist (always given inside angle brackets:< >), we have been selective, sometimes perhaps arbitrarily so. When cancellations could not be read, they could not be transcribed and printed. And we have omitted many routine corrections. We have simply aimed to be generously representative of the diarist’s first thoughts that he revised.
The guide to editorial apparatus which follows is abridged from the Guide to Editorial Apparatus which appears, with appropriate modifications, in the first volume of each of the published units of The Adams Papers . The reader should refer to those volumes for fuller information on devices, code names, symbols, abbreviations, &c., that are used throughout The Adams Papers . Only those which are used in The Earliest Diary of John Adams are listed in the tables below.
{ 17 }

Textual Devices

The following devices are used to clarify the presentation of the text.
[...], [....]   One or two words missing and not conjecturable.  
[...]1, [....]1   More than two words missing and not conjecturable; subjoined footnote estimates amount of missing matter.  
[ ]   Number or part of a number missing or illegible. Amount of blank space inside brackets approximates the number of missing or illegible digits.  
[roman]   Conjectural reading for missing or illegible matter. A question mark is inserted before the closing bracket if the conjectural reading is seriously doubtful.  
<italic>   Matter canceled in the manuscript but restored in our text.  
[italic]   Editorial insertion in the text.  

Adams Family Code Names

JA   John Adams (1735–1826)  
AA   Abigail Smith (1744–1818), m. JA 1764  
AA2   Abigail Adams (1765–1813), daughter of JA and AA , m. WSS 1786  
WSS   William Stephens Smith (1755–1816), m. AA2 1786  
GWA   George Washington Adams (1801–1829), grandson of JA and AA  
JA2   John Adams (1803–1834), grandson of JA and AA  
CFA   Charles Francis Adams (1807–1886), grandson of JA and AA  

Descriptive Symbols

The following symbols are employed to describe or identify in brief form the various kinds of manuscript originals.
D   Diary  
FC   file copy  
LbC   letterbook copy  
M   Miscellany  
MS, MSS   manuscript, manuscripts  
RC   recipient’s copy  
Tr   transcript  

Location Symbols

The following list gives the symbols and their expanded equivalents for institutions in the United States owning original documents drawn upon in the present volume.
M-Ar   Massachusetts Archives  
MB   Boston Public Library  
MH   Harvard College Library  
MH-Ar   Harvard University Archives  
MHi   Massachusetts Historical Society  
{ 18 }
MWA   American Antiquarian Society  
MiU-C   William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan  
VtHi   Vermont Historical Society  

Other Abbreviations and Conventional Terms


  • Adams Genealogy
  • A set of genealogical charts and a concise biographical register of the Adams family in the Presidential line and of closely connected families from the 17th through the 19th century. The Adams Genealogy is now being prepared for publication in preliminary form.

  • Adams Papers
  • Manuscripts and other materials, 1639–1889, in the Adams Manuscript Trust collection given to the Massachusetts Historical Society in 1956 and enlarged by a few additions of family papers since then.

  • Adams Papers, Microfilms
  • The corpus of the Adams Papers, 1639–1889, as published on microfilm by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1954–1959, in 608 reels.

  • The Adams Papers
  • The edition in letterpress, published by The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Since there will be no over-all volume numbering for the edition, references from one series, or unit of a series, to another will be by title, volume, and page; for example, JA , Diary and Autobiography, 4:205.

  • Min. Bk., Inf. Ct.
  • Minute Books of the Massachusetts Inferior Court of Common Pleas for Suffolk County, in the custody of the Clerk of the Massachusetts Superior Court for Civil Business, Suffolk County Court House, Boston.

  • Q.B.
  • English court of Queen’s Bench.

Short Titles of Works Frequently Cited


  • AA2, Jour. and Corr.
  • Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, Daughter of John Adams, . . . edited by Her Daughter [Caroline Amelia (Smith) de Windt], New York and London, 1841–1842; 2 vols.

  • Adams Family Correspondence
  • Adams Family Correspondence, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1963– .

  • BM, Catalogue
  • The British Museum Catalogue of Printed Books, 1881–1900, Ann Arbor, 1946; 58 vols. Supplement, 1900–1905, Ann Arbor, 1950; 10 vols.

  • Col. Soc. Mass., Pubns.
  • Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Publications.

  • DAB
  • Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, New York, 1928–1936; 20 vols. plus index and supplements.

  • DNB
  • Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, eds., The Dictionary of National Biography, New York and London, 1885–1900; 63 vols. plus supplements.

  • Eng. Rep.
  • The English Reports; 176 vols. A collection and translation into English of all the early English reporters.

  • Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend
  • Worthington C. Ford, ed., Statesman and Friend: Correspondence of John Adams with Benjamin Waterhouse, 1784–1822, Boston, 1927.

  • JA, Corr. in the Boston Patriot
  • Correspondence of the Late President Adams, Originally Published in the Boston Patriot. In a Series of Letters, Boston, 1809[–1810]; 10 parts.

  • JA, Diary and Autobiography
  • Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, ed. L. H. Butterfield and others, Cambridge, 1961; 4 vols.

  • JA, Legal Papers
  • Legal Papers of John Adams, ed. L. Kinvin Wroth and Hiller B. Zobel, Cambridge, 1965; 3 vols.

  • JA-AA, Familiar Letters
  • Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife Abigail Adams, during the Revolution. With a Memoir of Mrs. Adams, ed. Charles Francis Adams, New York, 1876.

  • Jefferson, Papers, ed. Boyd
  • The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, ed. Julian P. Boyd and others, Princeton, 1950– .

  • Laws of Mass. (1807).
  • Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Boston, 1807; 3 vols.

  • Mass.
  • Massachusetts Reports, Exeter and Boston, 1804– .

  • Mass., House Jour.
  • Journals of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts [1715– ], Boston, reprinted by the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1919– .

  • Mass., Province Laws
  • The Acts and Resolves, Public and Private, of the Province of the Massachusetts Bay, Boston, 1869–1922; 21 vols.

  • Mass. Soldiers and Sailors
  • Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors of the Revolutionary War, Boston, 1896–1908; 17 vols.

  • MHS, Colls., Procs.
  • Massachusetts Historical Society, Collections and Proceedings.

  • Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard
  • Samuel Eliot Morison, Three Centuries of Harvard, 1636–1936, Cambridge, 1936.

  • Nieuw Ned. Biog. Woordenboek
  • P. C. Molhuysen and others, eds., Nieuw Nederlandsche Biografisch Woordenboek, Leyden, 1911–1937; 10 vols.

  • Odell, Annals N.Y. Stage
  • George C. D. Odell, Annals of the New York Stage, New York, 1927–1949; 15 vols.

  • OED
  • The Oxford English Dictionary, Oxford, 1933; 12 vols. and supplement.

  • Pick.
  • Octavius Pickering, Pickering’s Reports (Massachusetts Reports, 1822–1839), Boston, 1853–1864; 24 vols.

  • Quincy, Figures of the Past
  • Josiah Quincy [1802–1882], Figures of the Past, from the Leaves of Old Journals, ed. M. A. DeWolfe Howe, Boston, 1926.

  • Salk.
  • William Salkeld, Reports of Cases in the Court of King’s Bench, . . . from the 1st of William and Mary to the 10th of Anne, London, 1721–1724; 3 parts.

  • Shipman, Common Law Pleading
  • Benjamin J. Shipman, Hand-book of Common-Law Pleading, 3d edn. by H. W. Ballantine, St. Paul, 1923.

  • Sibley-Shipton, Harvard Graduates
  • John Langdon Sibley and Clifford K. Shipton, Biographical Sketches of Graduates of Harvard University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Cambridge and Boston, 1873– .

  • U.S.
  • United States Reports, Supreme Court, Boston, N.Y., and Washington, 1875– .

  • Webster, 2d edn.
  • Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, Unabridged, Springfield, Mass., 1957.