Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Newsletter of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 2, Number 1, February 1980. ISSN 0196-7134


© Association for Documentary Editing, 1980. Used by permission.


This first convention of our associtation invites observations on the present state of documentary editing. As a branch of learning, documentary editing has come of age, for underlying its practice are principles and values that make it as distinctive a field of inquiry as say quantitative history or literary criticism. That it has matured is due in no small measure to scholars like our president and president-elect, who rank among the pioneers of modern editorial methods. Documentary editing has gained in popularity, as witness the growth of this organization in just its first year of existence or the increasing number of graduate programs in which editing is a part of their course offerings. For example, the second edition of the American Historical Association's Guide to Departments of History, published in 1977, listed 19 graduate departments that offered classes in editing, whereas the 1979 edition numbers a total of 24 departments. This change represents an increase of 20 percent in just two years. One probable import of these statistics is their reflection of efforts by history departments to prepare their graduate students with skills that will enhance their attractiveness in a declining job market. The figures may also indicate a trend toward the day when graduate schools become the chief breeding ground for future documentary editors. Whatever their portent, they certainly argue the advisability of having working editors periodically examine the manner in which future practitioners are trained. Because this association is committed to encouraging excellence in documentary editing, it can be the ideal vehicle for making such examinations. The membership can take a leading part in establishing standards to guide those of us who instruct young scholars in the mysteries of our craft. To do that, though, we ought to have a clear understanding as to how we wish to train future editors, especially the solo practitioner who is the most numerous of the genus documentary editor.