documentary editing

n.The selection, description, and critical annotation of original documents for publication.


The publication of historical documents was motivated, in part, by a desire to ensure their preservation through the distribution of many copies. The production of documentary editions also was intended to make works of prominent writers and historical figures more accessible, growing in part out of a 19th-century romantic belief in the inspirational nature of these documents.


Dow et al. 2001, p. 295 Formal documentary editing contextualizes documents, which is to say, it orients or situates documents among other historically and intellectually related documents. Cox 1997 It is generally the past half century that would be recognized as the height of documentary editing as a systematic, professionalized, and effective pastime. Clearly, the late nineteenth century movement called scientific history, with its emphasis on the careful use of documentary sources akin to the running of experiments in scientific laboratories, had much to do with the development of more rigorous standards for documentary editing. Kline 1998, p. 271 ['Documentary editing'] became current in the later 1970s to describe the process of creating reading texts intended to capture the substance and quality of the source texts so that the editorial texts would have substantially the same evidentiary value as their sources.