Clark V. Johnson, ed., Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict, (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1992), xxv-xxxvii.
Because the affidavits transcribed in this book were written by nearly 700 different authors, format and style vary tremendously from one petition to another. Although our main objective has been to be as true as possible to the handwritten originals, reproducing so many old documents written by so many different people called for more standardizations and approximations than were first expected.
The following list explains the specific editorial decisions we made. They apply to the book as a whole, but relate most directly to the handwritten, individual petitions, found in Chapters 4, 6, 9, and 10.
1. Original spelling and capitalization have been maintained.
2. Familiar marks of punctuation have been preserved even when they were used in unfamiliar ways. But unfamiliar marks of punctuation have been modified or deleted: a double period is transcribed as a single period.
3. The spacing of the original petitions has been noted only when it seemed significant. When a large space seemed to indicate a paragraph break, a paragraph break has been made in its place. When a large space seemed to indicate a break between sentences, a bracketed period, [.], has been inserted in its place. When a large space seemed to represent a blank, as for an unknown name, then a long dash,—, has been substituted in its place.
4. Original paragraphing has been maintained, but indentation has been standardized. Due to software constraints, a few paragraph breaks had to be made where a petitioner did not indicate any. These breaks have been marked with the paragraph symbol, ¶.
5. Abbreviations have been maintained, but punctuation has been altered to follow modern conventions. Petitioners had several ways of punctuating an abbreviated word-raising the final letter to a superscript, underlining a portion of the abbreviated word, etc. These obsolete marks of punctuation have all been omitted and replaced with a period.
6. Superscripts have been lowered: 3rd to 3rd.
7. Scribbles and marginal notes have, for the most part, been ignored. If they were deemed significant, they were described in a footnote. Navigational helps from the original petitions, such as page numbers or phrases like “continued on next page” have been omitted.
8. Words or letters that were blotted out, rubbed out, or struck over have all been printed as strikeovers,
mob, and have been preserved when they corrected more than a slip of the pen. Occasionally a petitioner did such a thorough job of obscuring a mistake that it was not possible to read the original mistake. In these instances, the struckover word or letter is treated as indecipherable.
9. Whenever possible, conjectural readings-Roman type inside brackets [Missouri]-have been given in places where words or letters are not clear and where words or letters are obscured or missing due to obvious damage to the original petition, such as a hole or tear in the paper.
10. An indecipherable letter has been indicated by a bracketed dot, [.], where each dot represents one indecipherable letter. An indecipherable word has been represented by a bracketed dash, [——-], where each dash represents one indecipherable word.
11. Editorial insertions-italicized type inside brackets [Missouri]-were used only when it was necessary to prevent confusion. When petitioners wrote off the edge of the paper, the words or letters that were presumably written off the edge have been supplied as editorial insertions.
12. The original documents consist of two distinct parts-the petition proper and the notarization. The petition was defined as everything before the author’s final signature and only that part was transcribed. Rather than transcribe the notarization information word for word, it was summarized and printed at the end of each petition, set in italic type inside brackets: [Sworn to before C. M. Woods, C.C.C., Adams Co., IL, 16 Sep 1839]. More information on the officials who notarized the petitions is found in the Appendix.
13. With the exception of tables, no attempt was made to reproduce the original format of the handwritten petitions. Original line-end hyphens have not been reproduced; instead, the words they divided have been joined. Likewise, the placement of signatures and headings has been standardized. Certain ornamental symbols, like braces, have been omitted.
14. When the petitioner listed claims in a table format, that format has been maintained. The printed tables are identical in content, but not in every other respect to the infinitely variable, handwritten tables; they are close approximations.
15. All monetary figures within tables have been printed numerically, using modern conventions. Dollar signs have been maintained or inserted only before the first amount, any subtotal amount, and the total amount in each table, and all other dollar signs have been omitted. Monetary figures not found in tables have not been modernized except that commas were transcribed as decimals.
16. A number of the petitioners could not write and made their marks in place of a signature. These marks have all been standardized and printed as a bold, slightly enlarged “X” between the given and surname. We deleted the words “his” or “her” and “mark” written above or below the “X” (see Plate 1).
17. No expertise in handwriting analysis was claimed and no attempt was made to analyze in detail the handwriting of the petitions. However, footnotes mark points at which a change was very obvious.
18. The original, handwritten documents were used whenever possible for transcriptions. When these were not available, secondary sources like History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a seven volume work written by Joseph Smith, or Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a chronological record kept by the LDS Historical Department, dating from the organization of the Church to the present day, were utilized.
The book has been organized keeping the location of each original in mind. When a document’s placement does not make its source obvious, the source of the transcription is given at the beginning of the petition in the upper right hand corner; additional sources are given in a footnote. A few standard abbreviations have been used throughout the book. The letters NA indicate the National Archives. SL designates those petitions that are found in Salt Lake in the Missouri Petition collection of LDS Historical Department. A few documents are part of the Joseph Smith Collection-abbreviated JSC-in the LDS Historical Department. The letters HC stand for History of the Church and JH indicates Journal History of the Church.
Note: The petitioners often used the word do in their bills of damage. We believe this to be an abbreviation of the word ditto. The petitioners also commonly wrote the letters Dr near the beginning of their petitions. This is probably an abbreviation of the word Debtor. The letters SS also appear in many petitions. The meaning of these letters might be Sworn and subscribed.