Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version

Fall 2003

Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 25, Number 3, Fall 2003. ISSN 0196-7134

Reprinted from 1990


2003 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


What is done during this time? Generally speaking project directors on documentary editions spend less time in editing documents than do the other editors on the staff. Senior editors are forced to devote varying amounts of their time to administration, fund-raising, and different kinds of public relations. If an editor also teaches, those responsibilities take up time: preparation of lectures, classroom time, consultations with students, and reading, critiquing, and grading papers. Editors also have other responsibilities such as committee work, responding to inquiries, consulting with other projects and individuals, assisting the federal funding agencies in reviewing proposals and projects, cartographic design and production, learning new computer systems, as well as working closely with the publishers in the production and marketing of their documentary editions.

All of these tasks consume time and take editors away from their primary responsibility of editing texts. All of these chores are important, and I could spend the rest of my allotted time discussing these things. But, I want to focus on something more important-something more nebulous-something documentary editors don't usually mention, at least not in the presence of officers of their funding agencies.

What responsibilities do documentary editors face as scholars? Obviously it is our responsibility to produce accurate editions arranged in a logical format. But I believe we as documentary editors-as those scholars who know more about our subjects than anyone else in the world-we have additional responsibilities to elucidate our documents fully. How do we go about accomplishing this?