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Database Transcription Policy

The entries presented for our patrons' use in the Illinois State Archives databases on this website are transcribed word-for word, and letter-for-letter, from the original records in which they were found. We feel that our principal obligation to users is to convey to them the records exactly as they were compiled and as they exist today. That objective is the same as the fundamental policy adopted by the Association of Documentary Editing.

That is, those entries are correct copies of the wording found in those sources, but the Illinois State Archives does not claim that that information is in every case without error. Those records were compiled by human actors and may contain inaccuracies as to fact, dates, and spelling due to the human nature of those persons.

If a researcher questions the accuracy of the transcription, we will be happy to compare the questioned entry with its original source to determine if any mistake was made in the transcription of that source to the database entry. If such an error is found, we shall be happy to make a correction to the record, if the database is editable. We are currently able to make additions, deletions and corrections to the following databases:

If, however, the transcription is found to be correct the State Archives will not change the entry, in agreement with the practice described in the first paragraph above. Users should realize that any such mistakes in no way reflect upon, or convey disrespect to, the subjects of those records, but only the assumed fallibility of the persons who originally drew them up.

Professional scholars who have made use of historical materials for many years understand these problems and make sensible, practical allowances for them in their work. Standards of education and orthography were different in the past from what they are today. Please recall that there exist only six surviving autograph signatures of William Shakespeare and in every one of them the writer spelled his own name differently. That fact detracts in no way from his genius or his fame.

For any questions or comments concerning these matters, use the Illinois State Archives Contact Form