Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 29, 2007. ISSN 0196-7134


2007 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


What sort of lessons are of "infinite advantage"? The audacious title of this article is taken from our forthcoming publication-Lessons of Infinite Advantage: The California Experiences of William Taylor, 1851-1856 (Scarecrow Press, 2009)-a missionary journal recorded during the California Gold Rush, and annotated with the help of a team of Taylor University undergraduates. The project title, suggested by one of the student researchers, comes from a line in the journal itself: "There are lessons learned in experience which cannot be spread out on paper, and yet of infinite advantage in the details of Christian duty." The line appears in the entry for Wednesday, May 25, 1853 in which the missionary describes the death of his youngest son, Willie, and speaks of life lessons not taught in any traditional sense but uniquely valuable for getting on with life. A brief but intensive summer term with six student researchers at work on their assignments endowed this project with a mountain of valuable publication materials, including bibliography, historical background notes, and biographical sketches of the major figures in the journal, all of which promises to make William Taylor's experiences and reflections, recorded over 150 years ago, accessible once more.