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For two decades, A Guide to Documentary Editing has proven an invaluable tool for scholarly editors, editors in training, readers of documentary editions, and other students of American history and literature. During that time, the field of editing has been characterized by increasingly scrupulous editing standards and innovative methods to reach the public. The publication of this third edition reflects the developments in the field of documentary editing and its evolving practices and methods of its practitioners.

When the Association for Documentary Editing was formed in 1979, its few dozen members focused on publishing books and microforms. Almost all its members were trained as historians. It was an accepted fact that documentary editions would be created on a university campus or in a scholarly library, with the results published by a scholarly press. All that has changed.

Today, editors are investigating electronic tools for every element of their craft, and their number includes scholars in the sciences, medicine, philosophy, religion, and the arts. Scholars, students, and laymen who search the Internet find an array of historical “documents” whose editors and publishers run the gamut from respected specialists at the Library of Congress to genealogists and family historians with little training.

This is a growing field, one in which the first wave of professionally edited works is reaching its culmination. Several major projects have completed work in the last few years, and numerous others will finish in the near future. But new and exciting projects are already taking their place: documentary editions of various kinds and formats that will uncover fresh materials on ethnic history, the arts, the history of science; editions that will reach increasingly larger numbers of users, especially electronically. The esteemed historian Pauline Maier recently wrote, “The people who know the subject best—the scholars’ scholars of our time—are the editors.”

Despite being the victim of near-instant obsolescence, the second edition of the Guide, published in 1998, was in a second printing by 2003. Mary-Jo Kline, the Guide’s author, used her position as a member of the ADE Council to argue for early planning for a third edition, one that would be marked by two novelties. Dr. Kline felt that it was imperative that the ADE recognize the realities of twenty-first-century publishing, not merely twenty-first-century scholarly editing. To this end, she urged that the third edition of the Guide be made available in some form on the Internet. There it could be kept up-to-date by periodic revisions, liberating users from the limitations of a purely print resource. On a Web site, too, the new Guide could be modified and repurposed for the needs of such special audiences as distance-learning classrooms and editors needing specific levels of guidance.

She also had a second suggestion. More than a quarter century of life with A Guide to Documentary Editing, she said, had been enough for the book’s original author. She suggested that the ADE Council identify a scholar-editor who would not only be her collaborator revising the Guide but would also shepherd the Web-based version of the Guide through its opening years.

The hometown of Thomas Jefferson, the subject of the first modern “documentary edition,” came to our rescue. It was appropriate that the area of greater Charlottesville, Virginia, brought the ADE a superbly qualified collaborator and successor as well as a publisher willing to join us in this innovative venture.

Up on the mountain where Jefferson’s Monticello looks down on the university, Susan Holbrook Perdue, Senior Associate Editor of the Retirement Series of the Jefferson Papers, enthusiastically agreed to be Mary-Jo Kline’s collaborator and successor.

The University of Virginia Press also enthusiastically agreed to be our partner in producing not only a conventional book version of “Guide 3” but also a Web-based partner that has been mounted as part of the press’s Rotunda Web site. The press’s Electronic Imprint reflects a commitment to innovative publication in the humanities unique among American university presses.

A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities made possible the publication of the third edition. Special thanks go to the fellow members of the ADE’s Guide Committee, including Joel Myerson, Cathy Moran Hajo, John Lupton, and, especially, Larry Hickman, who helped with early negotiations for the edition.

Special thanks also go to Barbara Paulson and Helen Agüera at NEH. Others who gave considerable help include Mary Lynn McCree Bryan of the Jane Addams Project; Allida Black of the Eleanor Roosevelt Project; Penelope Kaiserlian and David Sewell at the University of Virginia Press; David Chesnutt; Michael Stevens; Richard Leffler; Stephen P. Davis of the Columbia University Libraries; Dennis Conrad, Ronald Bosco, Beth Luey, Esther Katz; Mark Ashurst-McGee and Ronald Esplin of the Joseph Smith Papers; and Timothy Connolly and Dane Hartgrove of the NHPRC.

I also want to mention that this third edition of the Guide is dedicated to the late Richard Showman, editor of the Papers of Nathanael Greene. Dick played a major role in launching the Guide at its inception and chaired the ADE Committee that worked with Mary-Jo Kline in preparing the first edition. A superb scholar, he was a man with keen intellect, quick wit, and a generous spirit.

We hope that this new edition of the Guide will serve all those who seek to learn about documentary editing or to teach it. In formal classrooms, distance-learning programs, private homes, and museum and historical society offices, the Guide can help share the hard-won wisdom of America’s editors of historical and literary documents and texts.

Roger A. Bruns
Guide Committee
Association for Documentary Editing

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