4 Replies Latest reply on Mar 27, 2019 3:42 PM by Lauren Algee

    Wide Awakes, Loco Focos, and other things that stumped me


      Hello All,


      I thought I'd share my discoveries and self-amusements here in the hope that some of you will relate or benefit...!


      You know those times you're stumped on a review or a fresh transcription, when you read and re-read, look at it from 2 feet away, turn your head sideways, and still you can't make sense of what you think you're seeing?


      I have a handful of those, and I wish I jotted them all down, but at least I've tagged these things hoping it'll prompt someone to google the tag instead of saying "wide awakes" just does NOT make sense here and delete it .... because it Doesn't make sense in the context of at least one of the documents I transcribed unless you know that it was a FACTION in Lincoln's time. ("The Wide Awakes were a youth organization and, later, a paramilitary organization cultivated by the Republican Party during the 1860 presidential election in the United States").


      If you, dear fellow-reviewscriber, already know this, feel free to smile into your sleeve, because I was standing on my head trying to make sense of its usage (not capitalized sometimes, and not pluralized) before I thought I'd try to search it as an entity.


      Another of these finds happened in one of my first efforts at reviewing... Loco Focos: "The Locofocos (also Loco Focos or Loco-focos) were a faction of the Democratic Party that existed from 1835 until the mid-1840s".


      The writer made passing reference to Locos (which looked like "focus" and thus it was transcribed - a reasonable guess since it worked better in context than Locos did!!).... But however much "focus" made sense, I couldn't help but see "Locos," even when I stood on my head and held my breath for 40 seconds.


      Because I had only loco or locos to work with, I had no idea what or how to google it, but I was durned if I'd be stumped to that extent.... And you know the rest of this story, because I found what I was looking for -- and thank goodness, because it appears every now and again.


      If you were one of the kids who paid attention in class (or grew up to work at the LOC) this is probably nothing new to you, but I'm neither of those things, I'm just plain stubborn. And apparently don't know a heck of a lot!


      This ends my first installment of "Who Knew?"... In my next installment I might share some of the ridiculous things I saw before I got used to seeing! Okay, okay, I'll share just one: I transcribed "Wm (the m as superscript) H" as "16th [?]", I kid you not!!!... If any of you feel foolish for things you've done, beat that!


      So, dear LOC staffers and ex-staffers , please be patient! And by all means, laugh with us-- or at least at ME. This is intensely fun and stimulating, and in my process of snooping and researching I sometimes come across those incomplete Completes that I've been sharing.... I do not go looking for them! They find me in my travels.




        • Re: Wide Awakes, Loco Focos, and other things that stumped me

          Dear Suzanne,


          What a lovely, generous, and funny post. I can assure you that paying attention in class and/or working at the LOC is by no means protection against transcription confusion! I once transcribed a 17th century recipe page from another project as "A Peacock Pie" but it was "Apricock Pie", i.e. apricot. I took palaeography classes as part of a medieval Masters degree and actually failed my first test because I missed off a whole line of transcription and made a few minor mistakes. I had to resit the test! And yet, here we all are, learning and laughing together--certainly not at one another!


          Your dedication to research is amazing. What an inspiration to us all!


          I like the idea of sharing our bloopers here or common and uncommon confusions. It helps us all learn.



            • Re: Wide Awakes, Loco Focos, and other things that stumped me

              Thanks for sharing my laugh, Victoria, and adding yours!...  I looked up "apricot" in my 1890 Websters, and it does make reference to "apricock," whereas a later edition doesn't. I'll be reading up on that one!


              Which leads me to share one of my favorite definitions in that dictionary:


              "in the West Indies, to roast a hog whole. It is, with us, used for an ox, or perhaps any large animal..." and it goes on to describe the splitting and dressing of the animal and also mentions that the practice has turned into a large social gathering.


              You have to love the conversational style of that time, from official letters that are more heart-y than business-like, to the Websters Dictionary which explains things in length and stops just short of providing a recipe!


              As for my bow to LOCers and history scholars, I figure they're more likely to know about Locofocos and Wide Awakes and would not have had to chase the wild goose like I did...


              Although I have to admit the chase is fun, and the goose all the better for the exercise.



            • Re: Wide Awakes, Loco Focos, and other things that stumped me
              Sharon McKinley Scout


              You are so funny! And you do so much!


              On behalf of myself only, I can say that as a retired music cataloger, I am not better suited than you are to read or decipher anything except possibly music (altho I did figure out Loco-focos without holding my breath. The internet is our friend!). I have worked with some old pieces of music here and there, particularly squirrely German things, so I didn't need to learn some things from scratch (like wacko S's). I still sometimes have trouble with decorative capital letters, alas. I have learned so much about the Civil War from Abe and Clara, enjoyed Branch's sense of humor, and discovering Mary has been SO cool! There's so much more to learn.


              This is a wonderful community, and I think we need to all get together to have lunch sometime. well, maybe not all how many hundreds of participants....


              Oops, I guess I need to get back to reviewing...



              • Re: Wide Awakes, Loco Focos, and other things that stumped me
                Lauren Algee Tracker

                Love these historical tidbits and your stories to go along with them!  Thank you for your patience and research --- and for sharing with us!