4 Replies Latest reply on Nov 25, 2020 8:24 AM by Lauren Algee

    Marginalia placement choices

    judith yellen Adventurer

      I've begun reviewing Alice Stone Blackwell's Class notes—almost 300 pages in four documents in identical page-numbered notebooks.  All pages are formatted the same way with text and marginalia in the same handwriting on every page.  The marginalia appears to be exact phrasing or paraphrasing of key points, or questions, each placed  approximately where an idea occurs. I assume the writer made these "notes on notes" for study.  As I read the the Crowd guidelines they should be inserted, but these are not insertions--they are study notes.  I've reviewed and edited two different pages handling the marginalia two different ways for review, discussion, feedback, help. 






      ALSO: I checked some completed pages --no consistent handling of marginalia--sometimes omitted. will need to be reopened and edited.--later.)

      Many thanks,


        • Re: Marginalia placement choices
          David Ferry Wayfarer



          Offering my humble opinion as a fellow volunteer transcriber.


          I looked at both examples you provided.  In this case, I prefer the example where you inserted the marginalia as close to the related main body text as possible (https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcrowd.loc.gov%2Fcampaigns%2Fblackwells-extraordinary… ) as opposed to the example where you collected it all at the end of the transcription (https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcrowd.loc.gov%2Fcampaigns%2Fblackwells-extraordinary… ). 


          My thought process: 

          1.  Both seem valid if the only purpose of the transcription is to provide text that is searchable by researchers who then go to the original source document for actual insight. 


          2.  The version where you noted marginalia "in line" or as close to the location shown on the original as possible increases the context of the entire document.  It reveals the thoughts the author was having as they were reviewing, editing, or using the document.  Also, I must say, I like how you kept the thought expressed by the margin note together instead of breaking out each line of the note with its corresponding line of text based on its actual location on the page. 


          3.  The version where you moved the marginalia to the end produces a cleaner product and would be easier for us to produce more efficiently.  However, this does seem to degrade the context of the notes.  As we move further away from the date the author produced the original document, it will become harder and harder to read their handwriting (probably even their typing).  While serious researchers would never rely solely upon a transcription as source material, a casual reader could lose a lot by having the notes physically disconnected from the location in the document they are describing. 


          4.  All that said, I have noticed there are two types of marginalia:  first, usage [or use] notes which are notes by people using the documents for purpose (class notes, notes to self, editing, feedback to others, etc...) and second, administrative [or admin] notes which are notes by administrative professionals whether they be for contemporaneous filing systems or for archival purposes.  I would say that use notes should be inserted into the transcription as close as possible to the text to which it is referring so that context is preserved and that admin notes could be collected up front or at the end of a transcription providing their location on the page is not relevant to the notation itself. 


          So, bottom line:  I prefer the example where you inserted the marginalia as close to the related main body text as possible (https://historyhub.history.gov/external-link.jspa?url=https%3A%2F%2Fcrowd.loc.gov%2Fcampaigns%2Fblackwells-extraordinary… )


          But, again, I am just a fellow volunteer transcriber.  And, like you, would appreciate thoughts/feedback of others.



          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Marginalia placement choices
              judith yellen Adventurer


              Thanks for your very thoughtful response.  Your preference is also mine, and I  eventually went on to insert the marginalia as close to the related main body text as possible.  Alas, some reviewers changed transcriptions like that to the other version (marginalia at the end of each page) and accepted such pages that way.


              I'd appreciate a response from a community manager regarding which version is correct.  I'm willing to correct completed items either way.


            • Re: Marginalia placement choices
              Henry Rosenberg Navigator

              Hi Judith- I agree with Dave. Placing marginalia as close to where it applies is more helpful. I found the first page better in my estimation. Also a fellow volunteer.



              • Re: Marginalia placement choices
                Lauren Algee Tracker

                Hi Judith et al! Thank you Dave and Henry for chiming in with great advice. It is generally best to insert marginalia close to the area of text it concerns. The examples you provide are really helpful and I agree that the first would be preferred. However, in many cases where to transcribe will still be a gray area. We always try to keep in mind that paleography is an art rather than a science. So in reviewing don't worry about reordering marginalia if that is the only edit you see as needed on a particular page and the meaning of the  marginalia is understandable as transcribed.