Lincoln Legal Briefs

April - June 1999, Number 50

Staff News

Over the next twelve months editorial effort will shift from finishing work on the Complete Documentary Edition to concentrating exclusively on its companion, the four volume Selected Cases and Commentaries. Accordingly, there are some new and altered staff assignments to note. Martha Benner, editor of the complete edition, has resigned as the project's assistant director in order to work half-time on another assignment for the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. Succeeding her as assistant director is another experienced staff member, John Lupton, who already holds the title of assistant editor. Associate editor Daniel Stowell will be managing editor for the book edition, which will begin to take shape this coming fall and will be published in 2005. Finally, two of our valued colleagues–Christopher Schnell and Stacy McDermott–are being promoted from research associate to assistant editor, on the basis of their respective records of service and scholarship. We offer thanks and congratulations to all these individuals.

June was an unusually busy month for Christopher Schnell. He delivered the luncheon address at the annual meeting in Chicago of the Stephen A. Douglas Association, and one week later he was married to Tammy Kuhn, who is a newspaper librarian at the University of Illinois in Urbana. Early in May Cullom Davis was named Honorary Doctor of History at the 132nd annual commencement of Lincoln College. Our talented graduate assistant, Tracy Berner, has agreed to remain with us for a second year; in June she participated in the NHPRC summer institute on documentary editing at the University of Wisconsin. Carol Lubrant, who has ably helped us on a part-time basis this year, earned her M. A. in History in May from the University of Illinois at Springfield.



April marked the official termination of the project's three-year $75,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Our final report, which NEH officials called exemplary, noted some frustrating delays that had dogged progress but also mentioned several innovations and significant enhancements in the forthcoming electronic edition.

We acknowledge with deep appreciation the generosity of the following recent donors: Alliance of the Illinois State Dental Society, Glen L. Bower, Esq., Cullom Davis, Professor Rodney O. Davis, Julia A. Greene, Richard Grosboll, Ira C. Houck Jr., Robert J. Johnson Jr., Carol Krohm, M.D. and Scott K. Summers, Lincoln Land Community College Elderhostel, John A. Lupton, The Honorable Patricia McMahon, Professor James A. Rawley, Dorothy B. Richardson, Charles J. Ungar, Professor Glen Wilson. The Honorable and Mrs. Harlington Wood made a donation in memory of Grover Smith.

Model Editions Partnership Prototypes Online

The Model Editions Partnership (MEP) prototypes for scholarly editions of historical documents officially went online July 4, 1999 at the following URL: Readers may remember from a feature article in the July – September, 1995 issue of the Briefs (Number 35) that the Partnership was to lay the groundwork for the development of electronic documentary editions of the future that can be made available on the Internet.

The seven partner projects include:

bulletThe Documentary History of the First Federal Congress
bulletThe Documentary History of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
bulletThe Papers of General Nathanael Greene
bulletThe Papers of Henry Laurens
bulletThe Lincoln Legal Papers
bulletThe Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony
bulletThe Margaret Sanger Papers

Editors of the seven projects served as the Steering Committee and also developed the individual prototypes in conjunction with a central staff at the University of South Carolina. Information on the Partnership is maintained on the site (

Documentary editions are a combination of carefully prepared texts (letters, journals, public records and other primary documents) accompanied by annotation, commentary, and other editorial features to make the texts understandable. These editions--now only in print or on microfilm--have the potential of becoming one of the most important sources of primary materials in tomorrow's digital libraries.

The Partnership undertook the task of building a foundation on which to base Web versions of documentary editions. That foundation is a markup system based on extensions to the Text Encoding Initiative's markup scheme. Both conform to the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML), an international standard for designing markup systems. Six of the prototypes use the markup system; the Lincoln Legal Papers prototype is for a CD-ROM based edition.



Last issue we highlighted the Reference Section of the Complete Documentary Edition. In this issue, we will take you on a guided tour through the heart of the edition—searching for and viewing case and document information, and viewing document images.

Users describe the characteristics of the cases or documents they want to study by entering descriptors on one of the following four screens (Figures 1-4). Descriptive terms can be selected from the drop-down lists in each category, or entered directly into the text boxes. The characteristics are then built into a query statement that can be used to search for cases or documents matching those characteristics.

The General tab displays search criteria that pertain to either legal cases or office practice work. Within the Type of Work tab, the user can choose whether to search for criteria specific to cases or specific to non-litigated office practice matters by selecting either the case or the transaction radio button. The Document tab offers search criteria specific to any document, whether it is part of a legal case or an office practice matter. Experienced users can use a Direct search to continue their research on a particular case or document by entering its ID number.

Fig. 1                                                                                                   Fig. 2

Fig. 3                                                                        Fig. 4

Users can type a search term into a text box, or they can select one from a drop-down list. (See Figure 5.) Once a drop-down box is opened (by clicking on the arrow to the right of the text box), the user can scroll through the list, or type letters in the text box and jump directly to that part of the list. Clicking on a subject entry will enter it into the subject text box. (See Figure 6.)

Wildcard characters can be used in most text boxes for more flexibility in designing a search.

With a search term entered into a text box, clicking the Add to the Query button will enter it into the query box. Then the Search button can be clicked to display the results of the query. Multiple characteristics can be added to the query statement, and advanced Boolean searching techniques can be used to develop complex queries. Users can save query statements on disk to be loaded and used again. This feature allows library users to save their work on a floppy disk from session to session.

Fig. 5                                                                         Fig. 6               

The search results are displayed in a list. (See Figure 7.) The user can highlight a case in the list and read a summary of the case, and view the subject entries assigned to it. A report containing the search results is available through the "Print" button. Clicking on the "Details" button will give additional details of a case.

Fig. 7

A list of participants in the case is given in the "Details" screen. (See Figure 8.) Users can sort the list alphabetically or by role, which lists the participants by their relative order of importance in the case. Biographies of key people are a mouse click away. (More than 200 people who figured prominently in Lincoln’s law career are included. The biographies are in the Reference Section, which was highlighted last issue)

Fig. 8

By highlighting a document in the list, the author or signer of the document is identified.

Reports that include case and document information can be generated. Finally, users can go to the document images by clicking the "View Documents" button. (See Figure 9.)

Fig. 9

The user can page through the document images, enlarge, enhance, and rotate them. A "jump" feature is available to go to a specific page.

A single page of an image or the entire image can be printed.

The design of the search screens and procedures gives our users maximum search capability through a very complex and comprehensive database. Users do not need to know a query language, however, in order to get the information they seek. Flexibility in its design and ease of use accommodates both experienced and occasional users.

Several programmers have worked with editor Martha Benner on its design. John Kremer, of Integrated Performance Systems, Inc., of Hoffman Estates, Illinois, however, is its principal architect.

The edition will be released later this year through the University of Illinois Press. Recent discussions with UIP staff have led to the decision to publish the edition on DVD-ROM media rather than CD-ROM. Readers may remember that it would require as many as 24 CD-ROM discs to hold the program, database, and image files. With DVD-ROM, however, the entire edition will fit on two discs—one double sided and one single sided disc. The cost of the edition will be at or below $2,000.

By the time this newsletter goes to press, all documents will have been accessioned and scanned; all case descriptions will have been written; and all but a few parts of the Reference, Background, and Help sections will be completed. The remainder of the time between now and when this edition is released will be devoted to final proofing of data and images.

© Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
Springfield, Illinois