Editorial practice

Standard format

A standard template for transcription has been used, comprising three meta-data fields, the transcribed text, and an additional meta data field if the item contains names of plants.

Item number. Each item has a unique number based on the date of the item, e.g. 57.01.15a = second item of date 15 January 1857. Incomplete elements of the date are represented by ‘00’ e.g. 58.01.00 = item of date January 1858. Letters or fragments without any date are estimated, often as ‘earliest likely’ or ‘latest likely’ year and, if possible, month. Reasons for dating are given in the notes to the letter.

File names. These match letter numbering conventions but use dashes since periods [‘.’] are not supported. Thus, letter number 57.01.15a is in file 57-01-15a, and appears as such in the ‘Preferred Citation’ given in the ‘Document Information’ pane for that letter.

Correspondent. Identifies the individual(s) or organisation to whom the item is addressed or from whom it comes using the format ‘First (or usual) given name Surname,’ e.g. ‘To John O’Shanassy’ indicates a letter from Mueller and ‘From John O’Shanassy’ one to Mueller. In some cases there is no specific recipient of text from Mueller. Where possible, a descriptive title e.g. ‘Testimonial’, is used. Correspondents who have been inferred are enclosed in square brackets, e.g. letter number 65.12.12 To [John Knight]. Some correspondents in letters derived from published sources have been listed as they were described in the source, e.g. ‘To a friend in Sydney’ is the correspondent entry for more than one letter, but it is impossible to know whether it was the same friend in each case. This type of letter is almost always a blind letter, e.g. 65.09.00a (see discussion in Scope). Those who have been impossible to identify are given as an unknown correspondent, e.g. letter number 96.03.12a. Where part of a name has not been identified, […] replaces the missing part, e.g. 44.08.09, from a bookseller.

Location. The source of the item, e.g. RB MSS M104, Library, Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne. Where the item is known only in a published form, details of the source publication are given in a note. Where the item is treated as a publication by Mueller, e.g. a letter to a third party published in a newspaper, reference is made to the appropriate entry in the file of Mueller’s published works, prefaced by ‘B’, e.g. B56.13.02. Some organisations have changed their names, some archives have been transferred to other repositories since transcriptions started, others have been re-catalogued using new systems; it has not been feasible to update those details in all letters.

Text. Each transcription has standard placement of elements if present in the source: address and date, salutation, letter paragraphs, valediction, addressee, and postscripts. Marginal notes are interpolated in the body of the letter following the author’s marks or placed at the end of the letter. Where orphaned marginal notes are placed at the end of postscripts, an indication of their MS [manuscript] location is given in a note.

Letters are transcribed into a normalised format designed to produce a clean reading text. Spelling and punctuation follow the MS. ‘Sic’ notes are not used, but in instances where the editors are concerned that an unusual or erroneous spelling may lead to misunderstanding, a gloss is provided in a note. Corrections such as deletions, insertions and overwriting are usually noted only where they have several possible readings. Editorial comments on the text of the MS are given in notes in italics, e.g. illegible. Physical information about the MS may be provided in a note, e.g. ‘MS edged in black’.

Translations. Items in languages other than English are followed by translations into English. The translations are intended to assist readers to gain an understanding of the contents. The translating style of the various editors has not been standardised. To minimise needless duplication, in some items comprising lists of plant names with comments, the translations are included within the list following the comment, e.g. 80.00.00e. Occasionally an MS has both English and non-English text, its position in the text usually indicated by a note, e.g. letter 90.05.16, note 1; that letter also has interpolated translation of comments in the list of species.

Notes. Where Mueller is mentioned in notes the abbreviation ‘M’ is used. References to sources used by the editors are given in the ‘author (date)’ format, e.g. Acharius (1803). Where there is more than one author of the same surname, as many initials are provided as are needed to distinguish them. Full citations are provided in the ‘Editors’ Citations’ file under Apparatus. References to newspaper articles and parliamentary papers are given in full in the notes. Items by Mueller are referenced by using the number given to that item in Mueller’s Publications prefaced by ‘B’. Thus B53.04.01 cited in letter 53.08.12 refers to M’s paper ’Diagnoses et descriptiones plantarum novarum, quas in Nova Hollandia australi praecipue in regionibus interioribus detexit et investigavit. Linnaea , 25, 367–445.

Where an explicit reference to another letter is made in the text or annotation, that letter can be found using the letter number coding system, thus the letter mentioned in the annotation by Joseph Hooker ‘And Oct1/80’ on a letter is letter number 80.08.10. If a letter indicated in an annotation or text of a letter has not been found, the note ‘Letter not found’ is given. Editors’ cross-references given in the notes to other files in the correspondence are of the form ‘Author to Addressee, dd, month, yy’, e.g. ‘M to W. Lonsdale, 10 May 1853’, implying letter number 53.05.10, unless the reference is to a letter with a suffix in the file number when the letter number is also given, e.g. ‘M to C. La Trobe, 10 May 1853 (in this edition as 53-05-10a)’.

Plant name list. Files containing plant names have an associated meta-data list of names that appear in the letters, including orthographic variants and names not formally published. Abbreviations have been spelled out. In those lists a generic name where it is used alone in the letter is included as such, unless it is also used as part of a full name in the same letter. Names appearing only in notes are not included in the meta-data list. A search of the corpus will not return letters that only include the name sought in notes.

Users should note that unpublished plant names appearing in transcriptions on this site are not effectively published. Moreover, the editors have not attempted to provide current names for those names now regarded as synonyms. This is also true of common names, which have not been linked to corresponding scientific names owing to the high risk of misapplication.

Other conventions

Square brackets are used to enclose the text in transcriptions of blind letters where only summaries survive. Square brackets are also used to perform a variety of other editorial functions but, except in the correspondent entry, mean uncertain reading unless otherwise specified in a note such as ‘editorial addition’ or ‘illegible — obscured by binding tape’.

Logical relationships are preserved. In many items, especially lists of species determinations, invisible tabulation has been introduced to ensure logical relationships are retained in screen displays, e.g. letter number 80.00.00f to Maurice Holtze.

In tables of data and financial returns, tabulation has been used for similar reasons, but cell borders are shown where printed or manuscript lines occur in the source, e.g. letter number 85.09.22a.

Printed text in tables, forms and letterheads is indicated by coloured text, e.g. letter number 91.01.07. When an item is transcribed from a printed source, such as a circular letter or printed testimonial with no or only minor manuscript components, the printed text is not coloured, but a descriptive comment is provided in note 1. For example, letters 85.10.12 and 87.08.24.

Images within letters. Images are briefly described in a note linked to the position in the transcription nearest to the position of the drawing or other illustration. The note will link to the image.

People mentioned in letters are not identified in notes, but those with similar names are disambiguated. If a person has not been identified a note is included. The Biographical Register is a work in progress, and will contain names of correspondents, those of all people mentioned for whom full details have been found, and of those for whom full details are not available if they appear in more than two letters. Where life dates have not been found, an fl. (flourished) entry is given.