Print Edition Research

Researching for the print edition is going to go a little differently than researching for the digital edition. Here, we are looking for specific points to explain certain letters rather than minimal research about the context of a letter. Here are the steps we are taking to research for the print edition.


1. Check the Google doc

The Google doc is a spreadsheet of all 2700+ annotation points. It includes the document number, title, date, and description of the annotation question and end note number. Each entry was assigned a topic and one staff members was assigned responsibility for the topic.


When you create a Basecamp entry for the topic, you can change the status to "Started." When you have drafted all the notes, you can change the status to "Complete"

We should be able to use the spreadsheet to get a sense of progress.

2. Add your Topic to Basecamp

We created an Annotation Research Basecamp project. In the To-Do lists, we will create a list for each of the topics in the spreadsheet. You can either enter them as you go along, or enter a whole lot of them at once, it is up to you.

If you want, add your name or initials to the end of the to-do list so that you can see easily which ones are yours.

You can add comments to the entire To-do list here.

Note that the newest TO-DO lists are at the top. If you click on the red To-Do Lists at the top of the list, you can see a column on the right that lists all the to-do lists in alphabetical order.


Here's where having your name as part of the title helps locate yours.

3. Add your Annotation Points to Basecamp

Create specific questions as individual to-do items. You can either create one for each endnote (or piece of an endnote) as the spreadsheet is laid out, or you can group them based on how you would likely research them. Tori and Stacy prefer to mimic the spreadsheet, Cathy likes to summarize and group questions.


It is helpful, especially when there are a lot of notes, to put the document number as part of the note title. You can name/organize these any way you like, it is your research!


Organizing them in themes, or by the resources needed to conduct research is another way to go. If you are using students to help with research, you can also break up questions by who you want to assign to them.

If you are going to have a student help with research, please provide them a sense of where you want them to look and more information about what you want them to find. It will help them get started and avoid them spending too much time or using poor sources. See example:


4. Conduct General Research

General research is useful to gain an understanding of your topic. Google searches and Wikipedia articles are fine ways to start off your research, and information from these initial sources can help lead you to better sources.

**Please be aware that we do not use sources such as Wikipedia, personal blogs and websites, student sites, and anything that isn't associated with a scholarly institution, museum or library, or professional organizations. If it doesn't fill you with confidence, it probably isn't a good site.

Take notes as needed in the comment sections of the to-do question.

5. Detailed Research

  • Trusted sources include, ProQuest, Ancestry, Journals (JSTOR, Hathi Trust, and Google Books are acceptable)
  • Anything from Volumes 1, 2, and 3 (3 can be found in digital form as a PDF on Tori or Cathy's computers and can be sent if necessary — it's a big file!) can be used without worry. We have Volumes 1 and 2 in print, and they are also on Google Books in almost all their entirety. These are excellent resources that you should not hesitate to use.
  • Books actual paper books, written by experts and, shockingly, amazingly good resources. Get up from your seat and go to the library!!

6. Taking Research Notes

Taking detailed notes of your research findings is critical. We will use these notes to draft annotation.

  • They must be cited. We need to know where every piece of information comes from.
  • Watch your quotes. If you are quoting directly from a source, make sure it is accurate and that you indicate it is a quote. If you are paraphrasing, make sure that you are not plagiarizing.
  • Organize your notes. If you are taking notes on a number of news clippings, enter them in date order. If you have one major source, put that first and add the less important sources at the bottom.
  • Add links/attachments to your notes. If you found the resource online, you can add a link so that anyone else can get to it. Especially useful if you are summarizing something complex and you want access to the details. Add the URL or download and attach the digital file to your note.
  • You may want to keep a list of places that you tried, but did not find anything. If you come back to the research later on, you won't remember and might do some research twice.
  • We all use these notes. So make sure that all abbreviations are clear and add context if needed.

Example of a note from a book. Note that page breaks are shown in the note text so that the editor can tell which part of the note comes from which page.


In this example from a newspaper, a full citation is provided at the top. Actual quotes from the paper are in quotes, the rest is a paraphrase.


In this example, a number of newspapers are noted that all add little bits. Only by reading through them all can you get a sense of the answer to the question.


Content of Notes/Extent of Research

The range of topics in the note prompts is broad. Many are straightforward questions that can be answered fairly easily with one or two sources

  • What was Jane Addams doing on January 5, 1905?
  • Identify Amos Pinchot
  • Do we have the incoming letter?
  • ID the president of the AFL.

Others require more of a general summary of a topic to help contextualize comments made in the document. These ones can take more high-level research and skills in summarizing from a lot of sources.

  • Details on nursing profession, what kinds of training do they get and registration
  • Discuss creation of American factories in China
  • Details on underage drinking—were any laws in place, what was the norm?
  • Background on class conflict in America as Commons defines it

If an annotation point asks for something simple like, "What does this word mean?" then the research should be simple as well, as we only need to know what that word means — not what the definition of the word was through all of time. We also don't need to look it up in 5 dictionaries— one lookup in the Oxford English Dictionary ought to do it.

You never know how much research you might have to do to get a "simple" fact or identify a person. If you feel like you are beating your head against the wall and getting nothing for it, start a discussion in Basecamp — maybe someone might have an idea of a new place to look. That said, try to be as efficient in research time as you can. We have a lot of notes to get through!

There are some topics that we will want to go the extra mile for — and most of them revolve around Jane Addams. We will try much harder to locate a person with a direct relationship to Addams than one who is mentioned briefly in an incoming letter.

You can sometimes — but not always — tell how important a topic is to the Volume by the number of notes.

7. Drafting Annotation

The annotation is the draft endnote or headnote that we will include in the book edition. It is the culmination or the distilling down of all the notes you have taken. Most of the time annotation will be drafted by editors, Cathy, Tori, and Stacy, or by researchers given permission to do so.

We want the end notes to be as succinct as possible. In the draft process, make them as long as you think they need to be, and then see what you can cut.

Be aware that we don't want to repeat information more than necessary. When an editor looks at all the draft notes for one subject, they can clearly see where there is repetition and can edit it out. It is all right to provide some context, especially if notes are separated by a lot of documents, but we can always use a "see document y, note x" to send them to the information.

Even if you have a lot of information on a person, the length of the note should be kept short, especially if the person is not important in the volume.

Sometimes, very famous people can have very short notes.

Put your initials in brackets at the end of the note, so that we know who drafted it in the case of questions.



When No Note is Needed

Many of the note prompts say things like "Update on …" which means that you are looking for anything new to report between the last end note and this one. If there is nothing worth reporting, then you can mark the note complete and just put "no note needed" in the draft annotation item and in the transcription. We can't know if anything important happened until we do the research.

8. Adding the Annotation to the Document

Your draft note should be stored in Basecamp, with a copy then added to the transcription files. You can find the files in the Addams Team Folder / Addams /Volume 4 /Volume 4 transcriptions folder, with the number of the document then the title.


Paste the draft note in the correct end note in the Word document. Note that the number might have changed from the spreadsheet, but the original question is written in the end note, so you should be able to locate it easily.

Sometimes, after all the research, you can't find the answer. That's okay. Add a note saying that you couldn't find anything for now.

All annotations must have citations, including page numbers, and the drafter's initials at the end. This will help us as we edit the volume to know who to ask for any followup questions. We'll delete them once the note is looking good.

9. Completing an Annotation Note

Once you complete the to-do question, click it to mark it complete. We can still search the completed tasks, so nothing is lost.

Also, mark it in the spreadsheet as complete so we can get statistics.

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