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Association for Documentary Editing. | Southern Illinois University Special Collections Research Center

Name: Association for Documentary Editing.
Variant Name: Association for Documentary Editing, ADE

Historical Note:

In April of 1978 a group of interested persons attended a conference at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library, Hyde Park, New York, in order to further discuss the prospects of forming an organization to promote documentary editors and their work.  The session was chaired by John Y. Simon, editor of The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant.  The result of the meeting was the formation of a steering committee that was charged with studying and reporting plans to form an association for documentary editing.  The committee and other interested parties met again in St. Louis, MO on November 10, 1978.  At this Founding Meeting, the group unanimously approved a constitution, elected temporary officers to serve until the first annual meeting, established a nominating committee for the forthcoming year, and agreed on a dues structure for new members.  By April, 1979, the group had registered 153 members. 

The newly-formed Association for Documentary Editing served to promote documentary editing through the cooperation and exchange of ideas among the community of editors.  One of the prime motivations behind the formation of the ADE was to create a forum for exchanging ideas and setting standards that reflect the ADE's commitment to the highest professional standards of accuracy of transcription, editorial method, and conceptual indexing.

Shortly after the Founding Meeting in St. Louis, the ADE Newsletter was established to carry news of grants and other funding sources, provide current information on members' projects, and to serve as a sounding board for members' suggestions and ideas.  The ADE Newsletter grew into a scholarly journal now titled Documentary Editing. 

The ADE established and bestows several awards to recognize excellence by editors, their projects, and institutions related to documentary editing.  The awards include the Julian P. Boyd Award, the Lyman H. Butterfield Award, the Jo Ann Boydston Award, and the Distinguished Service Award. 

The majority of editing done on ADE-associated projects is carried out by university-based editors, researchers, and faculty members. Some are multi-volume editions that are being compiled by full-time staffs, while others are solo projects.  The projects represented by the ADE are working to publish edited texts so that they can be more readily available and accessible, in the expectation that they will be then be widely used. The most common form of publication is the letterpress (book) edition, which ranges in scope from a highly selective single volume to more comprehensive projects that produce multi-volume sets. Virtually all of these editions, both the single and the multi-volume ones, are published by university presses. These editions consist of transcripts of the original documents, together with annotation to provide context.  Most major university libraries have the majority of these volumes and sets.  Another form of publication is image-based. In earlier years this generally meant microform, but increasingly such editions have been delivered on CD-ROM and the Internet.

Sources: The ADE website ( and a pamphlet titled "The Association for Documentary Editing: The First Twenty Years 1978-1998" published by the ADE, are valuable sources for more biographical information about the ADE.

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