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 Documentation for the Section of Diaries and Letters

Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project

by Terry Heller
Updated August 2018


Transcriptions of the known diaries kept by Sarah Orne Jewett
    And selected diaries of Annie Adams Fields that document shared experiences of the two women.
    Included so far are the 1896 Diary of a West Indian Island Tour,
        A 1905 and 1908 diary in a single volume, recounting events of those years that involved Jewett.

    In prospect is an 1898 diary of a trip the pair made to France.

    The Jewett diaries are lightly annotated; little effort has been made to identify the people she names or to document events to which she refers.
    The Fields diary is heavily annotated, in part because this document has been and likely will continue to be used by scholars to understand Fields's, and implicitly, Jewett's responses to what they understood to be exotic cultures, non-white and in many ways far different from those with which they identified.

    The diaries reflect two transcription styles.  The Jewett diaries were added comparatively early in the archive's development, when I was thinking primarily of making available readable transcriptions.  The Fields diary is more recent, and there I sought to provide a good deal of information about the manuscript while also retaining readability. 
    There I use these basic forms:

^  ^ :  The author has inserted text.
abc :  The author has deleted text.
{ }  :  Editorial insertions in pursuit of clarity.
[  ]  :  Editorial comments and descriptions.  [Ordinary text indicates guessing the author's intent; italics is editorial commentary.]

There are two parts to the collection of letters:
    A:  a chronological collection that is intended to be comprehensive, including all known letters written by Jewett and to include as many as seem interesting written to her or about her;
    B:  the published collections of Jewett's letters.  These are presented, within reason, as they appear in their original print publication.

Structure of Part A
    The chronological collection includes a master list of correspondents along with the letters collected and annotated and arranged in files by year.
    The correspondents list provides information about each correspondent, intended mainly to help with dating letters, but also to indicate relationships between the correspondents.
    The contents page for this collection is:
    This presents a grid in which one can click on a year and open a page containing letters from that year arranged in what I currently believe is chronological order.  There is a file for letters that I am unable to date, with guesses about date range when that seems possible.

Structure of Part B
    The contents page for this collection lists publications of Jewett letters in chronological order and links to my presentations of these texts.

    For part A, I am making an effort to locate all Jewett letters held in small collections.  These are listed -- somewhat unreliably -- in Colby Quarterly, Volume 5, Issue 3, September 1959, "The Letters of Sarah Orne Jewett," by John Eldridge Frost.
    Below are lists that probably are not comprehensive.  I will make an effort to update these as I continue the letters project, which in summer 2016 is the most active section of the Jewett archive.

    Part B contains the annotations of the original transcribers and editors, with corrections where problems have been found.
    Part A letters are heavily annotated.  The main motive for such annotation is to determine the dates of the letters, since most were not dated by day, month, and year, but usually only by day of the week.  Therefore, I have made great effort to identify persons, places and events that help to establish the composition dates, and I have presented the information gleaned in order to make it easy for future readers to check and correct my work.
    A complication of the annotation is that there are differing styles.  I have mainly preserved the notes produced by annotators other than myself, but I have taken liberties as well -- adding to and correcting material in the original notes.  I have tried with each letter to make clear who is responsible for the notes.
    Part A letters are designed to be "free-standing."  This means that each letter should be reasonably readable on its own, without the necessity of reading the other letters around it.  As a result, there is considerable redundancy as items in one letter are annotated again in later letters.  I have attempted to reduce lengthy repetition by making a list of persons -- correspondents and people often mentioned -- to which many notes point.  Often then, with just the letter and the Correspondents files open, one can gather most of the information necessary to make a letter understandable.  The notes explain items not in the Correspondents file and indicate the location of the manuscript.

There currently are multiple transcription styles.

    Letters transcribed by other editors follow their styles.
    Letters I transcribed more than a few years ago are presented for readability, with few textual notes.
    Letters I have transcribed since about 2011 follow the style used for the Fields Diary. 

I continue to discover errors and inconsistencies, especially in my own work,  that I hope to correct over time.

In an ideal future, these all will come into line with each other, as new transcribers examine the manuscripts and correct the current transcriptions.

Archives from which Part A letters have been obtained

I believe I have collected ALL letters from these

Allegheny College
American Antiquarian Society
Amherst College
Berwick Academy
Beverly (MA) Historical Society
Boston College
Boston University
Colby College  (Most transcribed and published by Richard Cary and Scott Federick Stoddart)
College of the Holy Cross (Transcribed and published by William L. Lucey, S. J.)
Columbia University
Haverford College
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Memorial National Park -- Cambridge, MA
Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum
Library of Congress
Loyola University -- Chicago
Massachusetts Historical Society
New York Public Library
Old Berwick Historical Society
Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential  Library
Smith College
University of Virginia

I have many, but not all letters from these collections

Boston Public Library
Historic New England
Houghton Library, Harvard University
Maine Women Writers Collection

If an archive is not named above, then I have not yet collected letters there.  Future plans include:

Bowdoin College
Chicago Historical Society
Duke University
Emory University
Johns Hopkins University
Maine Historical Society
Newberry Library

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