The Book: Progess Report – August 2, 2014

World War II letter book coverThis week was my first full week back to work at my day job. Wow! My vacation is truly over.  Late summer and early fall are my busy season. I will be madly working on state mandated testing until the end of October.  Despite my schedule change, I still managed to work on the book and transcribe this week’s letters.

Last week after I decided to start using the Palamino font, I went back through the manuscript and changed both the font type and the size. The book has now increased in length and measures over 300 hundred pages. I am almost done assembling chapter 8 (November 1942). Chapter 9 will include all the letters from December 1942. I intend to write a chapter of biographies of the people who are mentioned in the 1942 letters only. The last steps will be assembling a bibliography of sources (these sources will mainly be the ones I use to write the biographies) and an index. I haven’t played too much with word’s indexing function and I am not sure how well it will work, especially since people’s names are not always complete. So I may be building an index of names from scratch.

The next thing I worked on this week was finding an appropriate symbol to separate each letter. Up until this point, I used 5 centered asterisks after each letter. Very boring! And it looked amateurish. I was thinking of finding a symbol that looked like an anchor since my grandfather was in the Navy; I wasn’t really happy with any of the choices I found. In typography, this device is known as a hedera. In old latin texts, it was used to separate paragraphs in long documents (between the chapter breaks). The device was typically shaped like a leaf from the hedera plant. I found that by playing with symbols in word, using the Wing dings font, there are some pretty great graphics that work very nicely.


My hedera symbol

Another idea I played around with was making a simple family tree graphic. Since the letters mention family members often, I thought it would be an easy way for readers to quickly find and see the relationships. I have completed one chart for the Yegerlehner family and intend to make two more: one for the Fosters and another for the Schiele family.

Yegerlehner Tree

Yegerlehner family tree

My last brainstorm for the week involved the use of poetry. Often chapters in books have quotes at the beginning. Roscoe and Gladys didn’t particularly have any favorite poets BUT they did enjoy opera. Operas are mentioned often in the letters so I thought this was a good way to incorporate that love into the book. So now I am gleaning one of the family’s favorite operas to find meaningful quotes. And when I say the family, I mean my generation as well. My dad took me to my first opera when I was six and it was this opera. Until this week, I had not realized that it was my grandmother’s favorite opera as well. I won’t name the opera as I want to leave some of the book a secret.

So my question for the week to my readers is…should I leave in the crossed-out errors in the letters? It looks neater if the strike-outs are removed but I think it takes away some of the personality and authenticity of the letters. What do you think?

© Deborah Sweeney, 2014.
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17 thoughts on “The Book: Progess Report – August 2, 2014

  1. EmilyAnn Frances

    Deb, I’m replying without reading any of the previous comments, so that you’ll get my sincere feedback. I’d leave them as is. There is something about finding an “X” or line through a sentence that lets you in on what the writer was thinking about. And since it was the WWII era it might have been necessary for a serviceman or servicewoman to catch themselves before saying too much. For the family members at home in the USA they had to remember to focus on letters that would bring words of comfort or encouragement to the family member overseas. Although it would cosmetically look better without the strikeouts it would be like editing part of the letter out if you remove them and I’d think it’s best to let them stand exactly as they were written. I’m sure readers familiar with the type of book you’re publishing and with family histories told through letters would understand.

      1. EmilyAnn Frances

        Yay! Stay confident! And I agree with Mom and You about the footnotes or *. For a reader like me, who is non-academic and not a professional writer or editor I look at the cohesiveness not the technical aspects of formatting. If the footnote at the bottom of the page explains what I just read above that is Good. And if there is a * or ** or *** that leads to the bottom of the page and explains what is on that page that is good too. As a reader I find end notes a bit discouraging because the reader has to go all the way to the end of the chapter, or the end of the book to find what is being explained.

  2. davidmadison1942

    This mammoth project is so amazing…so glad you’re doing it. And Yes, I agree with what most folks have said here: leave the strike-outs in.

    And Yes, the summer is rushing madly toward Sept 1…which is the way it should be when we’re swept up in projects.

  3. Mom

    I agree with Donna. Leave the errors in. IF something is just so unclear that it really disrupts the reading, put a little * beside that word/phrase and then describe or transcribe the confusing spot by the asterisk at the bottom of the same page using an italicized version of your font (size too). So it woodd* look like this below when you finished the page.

    *woodd would

    ..and of course I can’t italicize it in the comments box…oh well! You know what I mean. And anytime you can add in what I call a score-keeper’s chart for the reader it helps. You’ve researched them all for so long that you’re on a first-name basis. Readers may find it difficult without a tree chart to keep track of who is who.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Thanks. I appreciate the input. The asterisk won’t really work though, as I am using footnotes at the bottom of the page. For your future reference, the standard method or style (especially in genealogy and historical transcriptions) of adding spelling corrections is: wood [would] 🙂

      1. Mom

        Ah, there is the difference between scholarly writing and the writing done as Creative Non Fiction. You’re right, you’re transcribing, so proper form should prevail. I really cannot wait to see the finished product. The cover art is fab!

    2. EmilyAnn Frances

      YES, Mom, that is excellent advice. As a reader I’d have no problem following the * to where it lead and taking the time to read the note.

  4. Amy

    I am enjoying following your thought process through all this. And I agree—keep the transcriptions as close to the original as you can.

  5. luvviealex

    Hi Deborah – This is so exciting. I love reading about your thinking and the progress you are making with the book. I’d leave the errors in. I’m with you on that one.

    1. Genealogy Lady Post author

      Thank you! I am changing some spelling errors, just to make it more easily readable. But things like, how Roscoe spells tonite (instead of tonight), I am leaving in. 🙂

  6. Donna Catterick

    I would tend to leave the errors in place – it does retain the personality. Although in some of the things I’ve transcribed, the grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors made it almost unreadable. But that hasn’t seemed to be the case with your family.


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