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Another letter that can cause trouble is that lowercase p. Using our knowledge of the long s and the p, we can see that this is a common English phrase: as soon as possible. Common 18th and 19th-century abbreviations and their full spellings include inst. The style here is to have a much taller ascender, or vertical line, than we use on our letter p's nowadays. You may also come across the long s in typeset documents. The round part (called the bowl) of the p may also be open at the bottom, making it look kind of like an h. Looking at the word Representatives above, we can see that the p does have the tall ascender and the open bowl. For example, take a look at Benedict Arnold’s Oath of Allegiance: You’ll see the typewritten long s numerous times within this interesting document.

The goal of transcription in the National Archives Catalog is to enhance searchability.

Every word you transcribe helps improve search results for that document.

Compare similar letters in the document to help confirm that you are reading the text correctly. Any comments from the transcriber should be noted in the [Comments] section of the Catalog description, not the document’s transcription field.

Letters will often appear similar or standard throughout a handwritten document by the same scribe. If you’d like to make a notation about something you see in the record, do so in brackets. Additionally, if you see a misspelled word or name, consider adding the correct spelling in the [Tag] field to improve searchability.

Likewise, if there is a word or phrase that you think is important and is somehow separated (for instance by hyphenation, or part of bracketed text), include the entire word or phrase in the [Tag] field so that it becomes searchable.

One hurdle to using historic records is how handwriting has changed over time — and that we don’t write in cursive as much as we used to. Include punctuation exactly as noted in the document, even if it is incorrect. 18th and 19th century handwriting can be difficult to read! Ask yourself if the words or phrases make more sense with an f or an s. Please transcribe the word as spelled or abbreviated in the document, however — do not correct it. Since our options here are houfe of Reprefentatives or house of Representatives, it’s pretty clear which is correct. If you wish, you can include correct spellings or significant un-abbreviated words in brackets following the word or abbreviation or in the [Tag] field. = a date in the previous month (5th ult.) & = et cetera Common “misspellings” and writing conventions attacted = attacked do = ditto evry = every evning = evening fiew = few greaddeal or great eal or gread eal = great deal perhapse = perhaps thare = there verry = very ware = were Common Civil War abbreviations Adjt. Type words exactly as they are written in the document.

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