Editorial Principles for Modernization of Transcriptions
by Margo Burns

The transcriptions of the Salem documents at this site are complete transcriptions of each document. The text has been regularized to make them easier to read by modern standards, and is not intended to be letter-for-letter transcriptions.

The following are the editorial principles used to create these transcriptions:
  • Spelling, capitalization, and punctuation has been changed to modern conventions.
  • The spelling of names has been regularized.
  • Archaic abbreviations have been expanded, including changing all instances of "ye" to "the"
  • Some archaic constructions have been moderized, such as changing "ten of the clock" to "ten o'clock" and "Mr. Parris his house" to "Mr. Parris' house", instances like "sayeth" and "hath" have been changed to "says" and "has", and older past tenses are modernized, for instance, "spake" to "spoke" and "rid" to "rode".
  • Years that are given as "1691/92" and such have been modernized to "1692".
  • Material that appears in square bracket has been inserted editorially for clarity, especially in the case of names that could be a "Jr." or a "Sr."
  • Partial words with letters that have been lost or obscured, as far as possible, have been reconstructed without comment. Where sections of documents are torn or otherwise completely lost, the editorial notation "[LOST]" has been inserted.
  • When a person has signed something with a mark rather than a signature, the mark is indicated by a X. Signatures are otherwise simply written out.
  • If a chunk of readable text has been crossed out on the document, that text is shown with a line through it. When crossed-out letters appear to be just an apparent misspelling that has been fixed, the cross-out has been skipped, at the discretion of the editor.
  • The manuscripts do not include quotation marks when someone direct speech, repeating something they had said in another context. For instance, a sentence like this:
               And she saw two cats and they said serve me.
    is rendered like this:
              And she saw two cats and they said, "Serve me."
    however sentences like this one with reported speech, not direct speech, are not changed to use quotation marks:
              The Devil did propound to her that she should never go to meeting

If you need an exact letter-by-letter transcription with all the details of the manuscript, please consult Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.

Last updated April 6, 2013 by Margo Burns

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