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Description of the Type of Index
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The “Indexes to Early American Periodicals” are “key word” indexes. That is, the topics are typically proper people, places or things and all entries are described by a sub-topic which may range from being a word to a sentence. Some typical examples of entries might be:
  1. Topic: Washington, George
    Sub-Topic: account of his work as President
  2. Topic: Morality
    Sub-Topic: essay on
  3. Topic: Virginia
    Sub-Topic: agriculture in
The indexing is article level indexing and in most cases taken by the indexer from the body of the text of the article, either by browsing the text or by modifying an existing index or table of contents or a combination of these techniques, a methodology which has been refined and perfected over a period of time.

It is recommended that as little information be put into a search as possible as terminology and spelling is very loose in periodicals of this time period. A person’s name may not only be spelled differently from one issue to another, but in many cases the same person can be referred to as:

  • Thackeray, William Makepeace
  • Thackeray, William M.
  • Thackeray, W.M.
  • Thackeray, Mr.
  • Thackeray, W.
Therefore, if you search for “Thackeray, William Makepeace”, the index would not return to you the other entries for Thackeray. If you searched for only “Thackeray”, you would be provideded with all possible Thackeray entries. You could then decifer which entries were appropriate.

The indexer has made no attempt at any type of authority control, that is the standardization of names, where there is not enough information to make that kind of decision.

Also many names and terms have changed over the years:

  • Shakespeare used to be spelled Shakspeare
  • Bonaparte used to be spelled Buonaparte
While we have changed these two examples in the index, terms or names of topics you are searching for probably have remained unchanged in the index, due to lack of information on the part of the indexer.

In addition, terms you are familiar with in today’s terminology might not have been the same during this era and have been left unchanged. Therefore, as an example, if you were searching for information on African American you would have to search for:

  • Negro
  • Slave
  • Black, etc.


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Copyright Computer Indexed Systems, 1999