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The King family papers document the business activities of the King brothers, George Gordon King (1807-1870), David King, Jr. (1812-1882), Edward King (ca. 1817-1875), and William King (ca. 1819-1897). Three of these men worked as traders with Russell and Company in China.

Correspondence from the 1860s to the 1890s largely pertain to the mental health of William King, his treatment, and his eventual institutionalization at the McLean Asylum for the Insane in Belmont, Massachusetts.

The digital collection is currently available for browsing, but this project will improve access by providing full-text transcriptions of every document. We greatly appreciate your help with this project to enhance our digital collections.

If you have questions about the Clements Library transcription project after reading this guide, please contact us at clemtranscription@umich.edu.

Getting Started

  1. Select an item to transcribe by clicking the “Pages That Need Transcription” button on the collection page.
  2. In the item view, click the About tab to see a brief description of the item. This information may help with identifying subject matter and proper names.
  3. In the Read tab, click an image title link to start working on an individual page. This opens the transcription window.
  4. Select viewing options from the buttons at the top of the window. Toggle "fullscreen" on or off, and choose whether the image will be to the left, right, top or bottom of the text box. Use the page controls to zoom in and out or rotate the image.
  5. Begin transcribing the page by entering text in the text box next to the image.
  6. Transcribe as much as you can on a page, but feel free to move on if a particular page is too challenging. Someone else can take over where you left off.
  7. Click the Save Changes button when you are done.
  8. Keep the “Needs Review” box checked so that another transcriber can check your work.
  9. Any user can build upon another's work by adding to or editing a transcription. To do so, use the "Pages That Need Review" button to find transcriptions ready for review. Read the original closely and compare it to the transcription. Make any needed corrections and save changes.

Transcription Guidelines

The goal of transcription is to reproduce the text as close as possible to the way it appears on the original letter or document.

  • Spelling: Use original spelling if possible.
  • Capitalization: Do not modernize for readability.
  • Punctuation: Reproduce punctuation as it appears in the original manuscript. Often, writers will use a dash to represent a pause; please reproduce these as " – ". Do not add punctuation that does not appear in the original manuscript.
  • Line Breaks: Hit return/enter once at the end of each line. Two returns indicate a new paragraph, which is usually indented in the original.
  • Underlines, strikethroughs, and other text styles: Use standard html text styles. Examples:
    • <u>Underline</u> = Underline
    • <strike>Strikethrough</strike> = Strikethrough
    • <i>Italic</i> = Italic
  • Special characters: Special characters and letters with diacritics can be inserted using your computer’s character map (Windows) or character viewer (MacOS).
  • Editorial comments: Place editorial comments regarding marginalia, crosshatching, etc. in curly brackets { }. Examples:
    • {The following text is crosshatched over the previous text}
    • {The following text is written perpendicularly in the margin of this page.}
  • Illegible text: Indicate illegible readings in single square brackets. If you have an educated guess, please place it in brackets with a question mark. Examples: [ ], [?], [possibility?].
  • Tables: Some documents and letters may contain tabular data that needs additional markup to display correctly. Please see Encoding Tables for an explanation of encoding for tables.