The interface to this edition allows the user to toggle between three views: a diplomatic transcription, a regularized reading version, and an intermediate view that reveals all editorial interventions. In each, the page breaks and document images can be displayed or hidden.
In our transcription view, we seek to document the text as it reads on the page, to the fullest extent practicable. The transcription of each item preserves all line breaks, spelling, punctuation and use of capital/lower-case letters. As the documents often involve fragmentary notes that do not represent continuous prose, each block of information is considered to be a separate paragraph. We include in this view, as a standardized ten-character series of underscores, the horizontal lines that Muse employs in her notes to mark the end of a section dealing with a particular topic or idea. We also include the handwritten page numbers at the top of the individual pages, as well as any running headers. We represent as blank space in this view any gaps that Muse leaves in the text, ostensibly to fill in a word or words later (when these spaces are represented by an underline, we include that line also, as a standardized six-character series of underscores; see for example, Notes on Art in Public Schools). All markings that mean and have been transcribed as ampersand (&). All struck or overwritten text appears as strikethrough in this view. Unreadable gaps in the text are rendered as [...]. Text about which we are uncertain appears in red and bold. Any letters or words that are not readable in the original but upon which we have been able to speculate with a high degree of certainty appear in blue and bold. Images of pages that do not contain writing by Muse are displayed in this view. We show quotation marks that are present in the original, as well as hyphens that mark the division of words across lines. We represent all hyphens with the n-dash and all dashes with the m-dash, and include spaces before and after dashes. Text that is centered or right-justified in the original is aligned in the same way here. We do not attempt to represent the positioning of text that appears in random locations on the page, left-justifying all such material. When header text appears in multiple blocks aligned differently on the same line, such as one item left-justified and another right-justified, we represent these items on separate lines in the transcription; see, for example, the headers in Charles Coates Narrative (2 of 2).
Our reading view transforms the transcription into a version that is easier to read and more stylistically consistent. In general, our approach is to regularize all aspects of the document, as long as such changes do not alter the way the text would sound if read aloud.
We standardize punctuation and the use of capital letters according to the MLA Handbook, Ninth Edition. While we recognize that differences of opinion exist around the capitalization of the terms Negro, Black, colored and white, we use upper-case for the first two and lower case for last two, in all instances, whether used as adjectives or nouns.
For clarity and consistency, we add periods at the end of most units of thought, even when they do not comprise complete sentences. We add quotation marks when Muse appears to be transcribing spoken language directly, as in the case of the following sentence in the Charles Coates Interview Notes: "If buyer don't treat you right, run off and come back to me, for he ain't paid for you no how." We format the titles of newspapers, books, journals, drawings, and paintings in italics, and place the titles of poems, songs, and articles within quotation marks. We employ the serial comma.
We regularize spelling following Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. We correct in this view apparent errors, even when doing so might alter the sound of the text. We have regularized to one word LaVilla, the name of the African American community in Jacksonville where Muse lived and which figures in numerous documents. We preserve dialectal uses, such as rembers as a contraction of remembers in the Charles Coates Interview Notes.
We expand all abbreviations, including & (and), with a few exceptions. We do not alter the ampersand in the case of Florida A&M College. We preserve without expanding initials that are parts of people's names, regularizing them to appear with periods and without intervening spaces (as in W.E. Dancer). We also do not expand Jr. and Sr. following names. We do not modify St. when it is part of a place name generally written with the abbreviation (as in St. Lawrence).
We have treated Jax as an abbreviation, although it is unclear in some situations whether this sequence of letters would would have been pronounced Jacksonville or voiced simply as Jax, as is often the case today. For the sake of consistency, we have expanded it to Jacksonville in all instances, including in the name of the final folder in the Viola Muse Collection at the Jacksonville Historical Society (which appears as Jax History on the physical object). We have likewise expanded the abbreviations of the following Federal Programs, which may, in fact, have been pronounced by saying the respective series of letters: CWA (Civil Works Administration), FERA (Federal Emergency Relief Administration), WPA (Works Progress Administration).
We collapse here the line breaks within paragraphs, allowing the text to flow and removing the hyphens used to mark word division. We eliminate the horizontal lines that mark separate sections or thoughts. We reproduce headers at the start of a document but suppress them when they appear on subsequent pages. We eliminate the handwritten page numbers on all pages and the images of the backs of pages when they do not contain writing by Muse. We left-justify all text. When a word is divided across a page break, we present the entire word on the first of the two pages in this view. See, for example, the word negative at the end of page 3 of Anna Scott Narrative (3 of 3).
Struck or overwritten text does not appear in this view. Where Muse leaves blank space in documents, apparently intending to fill in the correct information later, we represent that absence as a series of ten consecutive underscore characters.
We spell out numbers that can be represented with one or two words, except where the use of numerals is customary, such as in addresses, mathematical calculations, and amounts of money. When ranges of dates do not repeat the first two digits (for example, 1905-06), we add them in the reading view (1905-1906).
The intermediate view makes visible the decisions made in transforming the diplomatic transcription into the reading version. The original and modified readings are shown, and a system of symbols and color coding, explained in a key provided in that view, is used to explain the types of emendations made. This view also highlights, as bold text, all semantic markup.