Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 22, Number 2, June 2000.

ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)


2000 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


Computers have become permanent features on editing projects. Gone is much of their novelty, as well as major debates over their value and appropriateness. Instead, current evidence suggests widespread acceptance of digital technology for a variety of major functions, from transcription and typesetting to document control and indexing. Thanks to the World Wide Web, computers also apparently hold promise of changing the very nature of documentary editing, perhaps in ways that can only be imagined at present.

Despite these developments, however, editors have tended to overlook the potential of computers to control annotation research. Indeed, current evidence suggests that they have largely neglected the issues of annotation control altogether. The following essay discusses the rationale and nuts-and-bolts application of a computerized system that the Salmon P. Chase Papers project used to accomplish that task for more than a decade. Each project faces unique circumstances, and the system discussed in this essay will not be suitable in every situation. Still, this article has been written with hope that it will nurture fresh approaches to annotation control and encourage innovative applications of off-the-shelf software for other common, often time-consuming tasks that editors face daily.