Copyright © 2000. Henry Papers Project. All rights reserved.

Notes On Style

Preliminaries to the Documents

Each document is preceded by a document number and a heading. In the case of correspondence, the heading indicates the author and recipient. If a letter is to or from Henry, we only give the other correspondent's name. For example:


If Henry is neither the author nor the recipient, both correspondents are specified. In the case of noncorrespondence, we use the title given on the original.

Copy Text

When multiple copies of a document are extant, we will present one version, and, with the exception of obvious copyist errors, report variations in text notes (see below). Our preferred copy text is an autograph signed copy. If that has not been located, our order of preference is a signed retained copy; unsigned retained copy; draft; Mary Henry Copy (see explanation, below, under Text); printed copy.

Date and Place

The date and place are centered and precede the body of the text, regardless of location or format in the original. If the date has been moved from another location in the letter, a text note will indicate the original location. Missing dates are supplied in brackets, with a text note explanation.

If not given, places of composition may be supplied in brackets and discussed in an editorial note.


The Henry Papers utilizes the "expanded transcription" method. Some changes, specified below, are made silently in the interest of clarity. Otherwise, we either retain original spelling, punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and paragraph division, or report any changes in text notes.

We do not try to duplicate the original word-spacing, line-division, or format. All complimentary openings and inside addresses are placed at the left margin. Where an author has not provided terminal punctuation for a sentence, but a sentence is clearly indicated (for example, the text ends with a gap and is followed by a capitalized letter), we silently supply a period. Author's square brackets will be silently changed to parentheses to prevent confusion with square brackets added by the editors. Catch-words at the turn of a page, author's page numbers (and other words such as "over" that refer to the physical layout of the page), and non-contemporary annotations to the manuscript are silently deleted. Hastily written words whose ends dribble off to illegibility are expanded to full, correct endings without any editorial comment. Points under superscript letters have not been reproduced in the electronic edition.

Our transcription conventions include:
strikeouts author's deletion
[---] illegible author's deletion; unless otherwise noted, one or two words
[?strikeout] conjectured author's deletion
^added words^ author's interlineations and other additions: material added at beginning or ending of lines, words squeezed in between existing words, or words moved by caret
[word or letter] editorial insertion because of lost material or material omitted by author
[?word] conjectured words or parts of words
[. . .] missing material due to physical deterioration of manuscript, illegibility of undeleted matter, or blank left in manuscript by author; unless otherwise noted, one or two words

All legible, contemporary alterations of the text in which letters or words have been written over by other letters or words will be signaled by a text note, with the original version given in the note. If the original letters or words are illegible, they will be silently ignored.

Mary Henry, one of Henry's daughters, gathered a large collection of documents after Henry's death in anticipation of writing a biography of her father. She transcribed a number of letters or portions of letters, and sometimes discarded the originals. From surviving originals, we know that these transcriptions are sometimes inaccurate and that she often edited the language to conform with later standards of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. In cases where only the Mary Henry Copy survives but the letter meets our standards of selection, we will use her transcription, signaling it in the provenance note as "Mary Henry Copy." We resolve textual uncertainties in her transcriptions by opting for modern usage.


Illustrations within documents have been photographically reproduced, with varying reductions in size, from the originals.

Provenance Note

This immediately follows the text and briefly gives the type of document, if other than an autograph letter or autograph letter signed, and the location of the original.

General Text Note

This directly follows the provenance note. It includes general comments on any unusual physical characteristics of the original; information on the existence and location of other copies (other than Mary Henry Copies) or drafts and on any previous publication (including microform) known to the editors; identification of the handwriting, if not that of the author; file notations and indications of date of receipt or transmittal to another person or agency, if important to the understanding of the document; information on a reply if any is known; and other information dealing with the document as a whole.

Text Notes

Text notes are indicated by superscript capital letters, alphabetically within each document, with duplication within a document where appropriate. They are used to signal, and sometimes to explain, author's alterations or overt editorial emendations of the text or to discuss specific physical characteristics of the paper and ink. Included in the text notes are indications of the movement of a date from another location in the document; explanations for a supplied date; the original text when there have been alterations by either the author or an amanuensis; descriptions of specific damage to the paper, such as a hole or tear; contemporary annotations; and notations of punctuation added by the editors.

In reporting author's alterations, we do not distinguish between alterations of a letter or letters and the imposition of one or more letters over other letters. Nor do we indicate which specific letter or letters were altered or written over. All changes by the author are signaled in the same way. In all cases, the phrase "Altered from" in a text note indicates an author's alteration from whatever follows that phrase to what appears in the text. Most forms of alterations are corrections of misspellings, false starts, and capitalization. For example, the following hypothetical line:

He copied passagesA from hisB Lady's SwedishC textbook.

would be reported as follows:

A. Altered from paggases

B. Altered from L

C. Altered from swedish

This can be reconstructed to indicate that the author initially wrote "paggases" and corrected it to "passages"; began to write "from Lady" but altered the initial "L" in the second word to an "h" and wrote "his" instead; and first wrote "Swedish" as "swedish".


AAAS Proceedings Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

APS Proceedings

Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society.


Biographical Directory of the American Congress, 1774-1949 (Washington, 1950).


Dictionary of American Biography.

Desk Diary

A set of thirteen manuscript volumes in Boxes 14 and 15 of the Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.


Dictionary of National Biography.


Dictionary of Scientific Biography.

Dupree, Science in the Federal Government

A. Hunter Dupree, Science in the Federal Government: A History of Policies and Activities to 1940 (1957; New York, 1980).
Elliott, Dictionary
Clark A. Elliott, Biographical Dictionary of American Science: The Seventeenth through the Nineteenth Centuries (Westport, Connecticut, 1979).
Fleming, Meteorology
James Rodger Fleming, Meteorology in America, 1800-1870 (Baltimore, 1990).
Goode, Smithsonian
George Brown Goode, editor, The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896: The History of Its First Half Century (Washington, 1897).
Hageman, Princeton
John F. Hageman, History of Princeton and Its Institutions, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Philadelphia, 1879).
Henry Papers
Nathan Reingold et al., editors, The Papers of Joseph Henry, vols. 1-5 (Washington, 1972-1985). Marc Rothenberg et al., editors, The Papers of Joseph Henry, vols. 6-  (Washington, 1992-    ).

Phil. Trans

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

Princeton Catalogue

General Catalogue of Princeton University, 1746-1906 (Princeton, 1908).
"Record of Experiments"
Henry's three-volume laboratory notebook in Box 21, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
Rhees, Documents (1879)
William J. Rhees, editor, The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History, 1879, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 17 (Washington, 1880).
Rhees, Documents (1901)
William Jones Rhees, compiler and editor, The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History, 2 vols., 1901, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vols. 42 and 43 (Washington, 1901).
Rhees, Journals
William J. Rhees, editor, The Smithsonian Institution: Journals of the Board of Regents, Reports of Committees, Statistics, Etc., 1879, Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections, vol. 18 (Washington, 1880).

SI Contributions

Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge.

Silliman's Journal

American Journal of Science and Arts.
Smithsonian Report for . . .
Annual Report of the Board of Regents of the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, 1847-    ). The short title refers to the year covered by the report (e.g., Smithsonian Report for 1855). The only exception is the first report, which consists of the journal of proceedings of the regents from September 7, 1846, through March 1, 1847, but is cited as Smithsonian Report for 1846.
Squier and Davis
E. G. Squier and E. H. Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations, 1848, Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, vol. 1 (Washington, 1848).


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