Transcribing the Body of the Text


Jane Addams’ handwriting is difficult to read, which makes providing accurate transcriptions even more essential to our meet our goal of increasing access to the documents. This step, more than any other, will open the texts to a wide and diverse audience. Transcription policies between the digital and print editions will be slightly different.

In most cases we render the documents as written. Some regularizations to the transcriptions will be made to make the document searches more accurate. Those wishing to see the complexities of the original manuscript will be able to consult the facsimile.


ALWAYS spell check your transcription after you have completed it. You can type it in Word and paste it into the Omeka window, or you can type it in Omeka and paste it into Word for a spell check. We don't care which method you use, but do SPELL CHECK. It is very easy to miss errors, and while a spell check isn't perfect, it a baseline that we can work from for proofreading.


Paragraphs will be rendered with no indent and a blank line between them. We will not replicate the formatting (indents, large first letters, capitalized words, etc.) of the original document, our paragraphs will begin flush to the left margin, and justified left.
It can be difficult to determine when new paragraphs begin. Some clues are:

  • Indented words starting new sentences. This can be slight.
  • A long blank space ending the previous sentence.
  • A line drawn between texts.
  • Extra line or space between sentences.

When in doubt use your judgement, knowing that we will proofread the transcription. Do not create paragraphs where none exist in the document. Do not create paragraphs when you think they ought to occur—changes of subject, new pages, etc. Stick with what you see.


It can be difficult to be certain when a sentence ends, especially in handwritten documents. Stray marks often appear on documents, some may be periods, others just pen stops (which we do not include), or marks added later. When trying to determine the end of a sentence, look for capital letters on non-proper nouns, extra space between words, and line breaks. When in doubt use your judgement, knowing that we will proofread the transcription.

Do not create artificial sentence breaks where none exist in the document, or where you think they should occur. Stick with what you see.


Some published material have divisions in the text, markers that set off certain segments from the rest. (Example). When transcribing these documents, add the section mark § to show the break, regardless of what character the publication uses.

Note that we don't need to create sections in cases of subtitles in newspaper articles, where different headings are separated by a line. (See example)


Some texts were created or edited by cutting out small pieces of paper and arranging them on the page. To represent both the page count and the individual cutouts, use [cut] at the start of each new piece.


We will note page breaks by including a bracketed [page 2] at the point where it occurs in the original. If the page break occurs in the middle of the word, do not break the word up, but insert the [page 2] after the word.

If a page ends at the end of a full paragraph, the [page 2] would go at the end of the first paragraph, not the beginning of the next paragraph.


Regular lists will be rendered as written, with a return between each item.

For bulleted lists and numbered lists, use the formatting button in the entry box.


If possible we will render simple lists that are in columns as lists. If there is a list of names that is rendered in two columns merely for space reasons, we will just list all the names as one list.

If a list has simple columns, like name and address, we also render that as a list and just add a space between the fields.

But if a list has columns that are tabular in form, where the table structure is important to understanding the data, we will do a table.

Tabular lists will need to be rendered in the HTML editing box.

Example of a simple table:


For a table generator see here.


Sometimes, there may be an image in the middle of a long text. Within the transcription we will indicate the presence of an image and record its caption. For example:

  • [image The Allen School for Boys, West Newton, Mass.]

Please see Newsboy Conditions in Chicago as another example.

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