How to transcribe antique punctuation?

I'm beginning to transcribe this document: https://catalog.archives.gov/id/102278649

Already in the first few lines, I've hit some inconsistencies and antique uses of punctuation.  Instead of a period at the end of a sentence, the writer puts a period and a dash "._"   See the Title of the document in Image 1.

In the first sentence, the writer uses an obvious comma.  But in the second sentence, the writer seems to use a period "." after the word "years", an underscore "_" after the word "Nation", a colon ":" after "Country", and a comma "," after "solicitude".  The writer ends the second sentence with what appears to be a colon and underscore ":_"

Can anyone provide a framework for how to approach what seems (to my modern eyes) like inconsistencies in handwritten documents?  I'm looking for advice on how to reconcile being true to what's written in the original document and readability of the transcription.  Thank you!

  • Thank you for your question.  Transcription is done for searchability in the Catalog, rather than to print a transcription of the record. So you should first make sure that the text is transcribed properly.  Then you can decide if you will follow the odd marks and punctuation.  You could start your transcription with a note in brackets such as this [This document includes unusual punctuation which has been transcribed] or [This document includes unusual punctuation and marks within the text, which have not been transcribed for readability]

    I hope this helps.

    Suzanne

    Community Manager, National Archives Catalog