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Many of the primary sources in the units contain text: letters, newspaper articles, documents, etc. Factors such as the age and condition of the source, or in some cases the handwriting of the author, can affect legibility. Legibility becomes even more difficult when the materials are digitized so that they can be shown on the Internet.

For this reason we have included a transcription for most of the sources that contain text. A link to the transcription can be found below the source's summary data. The transcriptions also allow us to present some useful features for your students. One of these is the glossary feature. By moving the mouse arrow over the highlighted words, your students can view a glossary window that contains definitions of the difficult words or phrases that they will encounter while working with a unit's text sources.

Example: The drum is beating for us to muster Assemble. Soldiers were called to assemble for drills by a drumbeat. for drill and I must go...

[Excerpt from the Civil War unit, Letter From Fort Snelling.]

While the transcriptions offer some useful features, students should still view the image of the source. They may enjoy trying to do a transcription of their own, a process that will give them firsthand experience with some of the difficulties historians encounter when trying to work with printed or handwritten materials. They will also gain insight into some of the decisions we have made to preserve mistakes, such as misspellings that appeared in the original source.