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Once you sign up for an account, a new Transcribe tab will appear above each page.

You can create or edit transcriptions by modifying the text entry field and saving your work. Each modification is stored as a separate version of the page, so that it should be easy to revert to older versions if necessary.

Registered users can also add notes to pages to comment on difficult words, suggest readings, or discuss the texts.

The purpose for this transcription project is to bring the entire rich contents of Doten's diaries to the web for students, researchers, and those with a casual or deep interest in Western American history in the last half of the nineteenth century. Doten's digital, searchable narrative will be at the center of the Website, with thumbnail images of the original pages presented alongside the transcription. Annotations and other contextual and interactive features will enhance the diaries and immerse visitors in Doten's milieu. We welcome your participation.

Transcribing Diary Pages

Cursive handwriting is generally not taught in schools anymore, and even those who can read cursive writing cannot always read 19th century handwriting. And even those who are experienced with the 19th-century style of handwriting may have some trouble with Alf Doten's. He often wrote at the end of a long day by candlelight after a drink or two. Be assured that his writing gets easier to read with time and exposure! And there is some assistance available: some imperfect transcriptions from the 1960s (as image files for reference), and a digital edition of Walter Van Tilburg Clark's abridged publication. Some transcribers will want to use the partial text of Clark's publication as a basis and fill in the missing segments. Please contact us and we will provide you with these time-saving tools.

We are interested in both accuracy and accessibility. Alf Doten was literate, but he still misspelled an occasional word. Please use his original spelling, but follow the word with the correct spelling within square brackets if it is a place name or a prominent word that someone would search for, within the diary or from the outside. Add correct spelling for a word that might be listed in an index.

If a word is illegible, write [illegible]. If you are unsure of a word, enclose it in brackets.

If you are reviewing another transcriber's work and you are able to decipher a bracketed word, go ahead and replace it with the correct word and remove the brackets.

Do not transcribe or indicate crossed out words or phrases. However, if there is an erasure of several words or line, please indicate, in brackets, the extent. ex: [two lines erased]. We believe that those words and lines were erased after Doten's death, perhaps by a zealous family member, and in the future, we may be able to use technology to re-image the erasures.

If you come across a crossed-out or hard-to-read list at the beginning or the end of a diary, you may want to attempt to transcribe it, but it is not necessary. You may want to describe the list according to its purpose, such as [shopping list] or [reading list] in brackets.

Ignore any newspaper clippings that are pasted on pages. Those are being transcribed separately. If you are interested in transcribing Doten's newspaper clippings, you will find them on the list of works in the collection needing transcription.

Transcribing preliminary transcriptions

If you would like to contribute to the transcription of the diaries but you do not want to work with the handwritten original texts, you can participate in another way by re-transcribing the earlier flawed typewritten transcriptions that are also posted on this site. These were created in the 1960s as part of the publication of the Clark edition. Digital copies of the re-transcriptions will be edited for accuracy alongside the original diaries. Please read the transcription protocols at the bottom of the transcription window.

Transcribing Newspaper Clippings

Alf Doten was a journalist for most of his active life, as a local reporter, editor, and publisher. He tucked or pasted clippings of his own articles and those that were especially interesting to him into his diary pages, and saved hundreds of others that are now in his collection. These articles expand upon what he wrote in the diaries, and he sometimes used his diary as a reporter's notebook as he wrote them. The articles will be available through links in the transcripts on the diary website, and their content will be searchable along with the transcripts. Therefore, they need to be transcribed, and are part of this project.

Please refer to the detailed instructions that accompany the clippings. The transcripts will be used primarily to get readers to the clipping itself through the search function.

Example of a transcription of a diary page

The Comet -- Sleighing -- Pat Martin's -- My New Suit $30 -- 'Waddy'

"milky way," several degrees up -- looks very faint, yet is quite perceptible -- Can be seen as early as 10 o'clock in the evening now, just coming up.

The town is covered with snow and ice -- There is sleighing, but not very good, the snow not being over 2 or 3 inches deep --

Thursday Jan 2

Clear & pleasant -- Odd jobs at home - -fixing clothes, visiting, etc -- PM down town -- Settled for my clothes -- my new suit -- $30 in all -- $25 for the suit & $5 for fixing- Evening home -- Paul Martin a Smoky Valley rancher got married this evening to a German girl, at George Lammerhart's residence -- Then they went to the

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If you have questions or comments about transcribing Doten's diary pages or newspaper clippings, you can use the notes area, or you can contact us directly.