My Georgia Tech Experience

I didn’t want to write this post. For many reasons. Personal. Professional. I’m at the point where I don’t have any recourse. Writing it all down, some of which I didn’t intend to write, not today, is a solution that will cause more problems.

I interviewed for a position at Georgia Tech on September 30. The Literature, Media, and Communications program needed an instructor to immediately take over 3 online courses in the middle of the semester. It was a perfect solution for me because I was unemployed and still taking care of my mom at home. The position would include in-person instruction with in the spring. The job solved many “right-now” problems for me. It also meant a chance of being together with my partner in the same city, for the first time in years.     

I accepted a job at Georgia Tech on 9/30. I quickly confirmed my acceptance via email. I knew I wouldn’t start working right away, but I assumed, and was told, I’d start in around 2 weeks. I’ve done the adjunct and precarious faculty rodeo many times in the past. I’m not unfamiliar with starting at the last minute. I know how this academic hiring works.

However, the Georgia Tech onboarding process was the most mismanaged experience I ever had. What I didn’t know was how the red flags in the hiring process would playout weeks later.

Countless hiring delays meant I didn’t start the position until the first week of November. I wasn’t the source of these delays. I submitted all needed academic materials immediately when asked for them. I immediately submitted hiring paperwork, when the opportunity became available to do so. I also, again immediately, submitted notarized identification documents, which I sent next-day via UPS, and which I did at a significant expense. I signed my contract when it became available, which I actually had to do twice as a result of Georgia Tech’s incompetent onboarding.

In what follows I will document what lead to the end of my time with Georgia Tech. It’s a long story. I’ll try my best at keeping it concise, clear, and short. I’ll provide links to emails between myself and Georgia Tech’s HR admin.

On December 31, I realized I did not get paid. Georgia Tech had me on a pay schedule that paid out once a month on the last business day of the month. I realized I didn’t get paid when I checked my bank account on whim while waiting in line at the pharmacy. (I was picking a prescription up for my mom.)

I called the Georgia state system employee hotline from my car. I did reach someone, which shocked me. They confirmed that I did not receive a paycheck. They told me they’d create a ticket for addressing the issue, but nothing could be done for a few days. I said that a few days wouldn’t work. I needed the money. I told them I’d been out of work since the spring of 2020 and cut off from unemployment since September. The person told me they’d escalate the ticket.

I continued running errands that morning. I passed along information about my situation to my supervisor. I sent this information via email, while still running errands. They likely said that nothing could be done until Monday or Tuesday because Georgia Tech was on break. I’ll point out here, from what I’ve heard: Georgia Tech has a robust work from home system, for everyone but the faculty.  

I thought about the situation more as I continued waiting for my mom’s prescription at a second pharmacy. I wrote back and said: I’m withholding my labor until I get paid. I will not work. I will not attend any of the orientation meetings scheduled for the next week. Not until I get paid.

Withholding labor wasn’t a small thing to do. Georgia Tech starts their semester early compared to other institutions.

Later that day, when I’m at home and have access to my computer, I log into the state benefits site. I wanted to check the status of my benefits, especially my health benefits. I saw that Georgia Tech also canceled my health insurance. That’s on top of not paying me. I’ll point out here that I did not receive a COBRA notification.

Monday comes along. I pay the bills that I must pay. I skip other bills, which I’ve continued skipping because I’m now unemployed. I review the Georgia Tech website, looking for anyone else I can contact. I find the organizational chart for the HR department. It’s huge. The HR organizational chart consists of countless names and positions. I’ll also point out here: banks were open on the Friday and Monday bracketing New Year’s Day, because of a weird quirk of when New Year’s Day fell in relationship to the calendar and the fiscal year.

I decided I would write to Kim Harrington, the Chief Human Resources Officer for Georgia Tech. I am linking the email here. I laid out why not getting paid on time was a significant financial hardship for me. My financial hardship will become important later. For now, consider the email as part of the backstory and a setting up of my ensuing interactions with Georgia Tech and their HR administration structure.

Harrington writes back to me that evening. I’m told the situation will get reviewed the next day.

I hear from William Jimerson the next day. I will link the text of that email here. I’ll focus on a few points from the email.

First, Georgia Tech calls the situation a data entry error connected to my original hiring date. They also blame background check vendor. (Key point: blame for this situation will shift around as this situation unfolds; that’s one reason I’m also including the texts of their communication.) Again, I’ll note that I immediately provided every single hiring item requested from me during my onboarding process.

Second, Georgia Tech notifies me that they overpaid me in my first paycheck. I am not told by how much I was overpaid, only that I was overpaid. I am told they’ll deduct this money from my next paycheck. I am panicking by that point. Georgia Tech will deduct an unknown amount of money from my paycheck. Plus, since I’ve not had any benefits deducted, I know that my next paycheck will likely see 2 or 3 months’ worth of benefits deducted, too. It is the first week of January. I’ll likely not see a “normal” full paycheck until the end of March.

(The part about the pay overage is the main reason why I am going public with this information now. That last part is important. The entire HR admin structure knew my financial circumstances because of my previous communication. They knew why not getting paid was a big deal. They’re all cc-ed on that email.)

Again, I’m on a one pay per month pay schedule, which arrives at the end of the month. My first paystub included zero benefit deductions. My first paystub included no date information about any payment going back to October. All the information on the paystub was for the month of November.

I am livid at this point. I write back to everyone cc-ed in the message. My email is in the link, which I copied from the email that I sent.

I don’t hear back from anyone from Georgia Tech for two days. I hear nothing, even though I made specific demands for information regarding the overpayment. I wanted the numbers. Remember: they didn’t even tell me in the previous information how much they’d deduct.

I finally hear back from Georgia Tech. The tone change is immediately apparent in the message that I received. In all of my correspondence I made no comment about quitting my job. No talk about resigning. Nothing. Out of nowhere: Jimerson asks if I want to continue in fulfilling my contract. The question is completely out of line. I’m not a lawyer, but I study words, tone, language, and meaning. I know that the question is not a question; it’s a suggestion. Link to the text of the email is here.

I will also point out that they did not provide any information about the amount of money they’d deduct from my paycheck. They didn’t offer any alternative solutions. I’ll return to this point about alternative solutions later in this piece, because it is an important part of the story. Also, it pertains to a piece of information I learned about a few days ago.

I contact my immediate supervisor, just to cover bases and see if anyone wants to pull the situation back from the ledge. I know everyone is onboard already because they’re all cc’ed on the emails. They confirm, yes they’ve seen the email. They reply (in around 20 minutes after I hit send on my email) and they include an onerous set of requirements for getting started for class that coming Monday. Again, I’ll point out that I’ve withheld my labor this entire time. I told Georgia Tech that I would not travel to Georgia or enter the classroom without health insurance. I told Georgia Tech that I needed my car checked out before I drove to Georgia, which I could not get serviced because I didn’t have the money on hand because of not getting paid. I’m including the text of their email here. Keep in mind that I’ve done the precarious academic gig many times in the best. I am a pro at adapting and generating a class and the required materials at the last minute. However, what I was asked to do ahead of class, and to still travel to Georgia was too much.

I reply. I address several issues in my email. Plus, I go into specific detail regarding my course evaluations, but that story is one for another time. It’s another wild situation that involves my choices as an educator. It also touches in a significant way on academic freedom and our current political zeitgeist. I have shared those circumstances with a few people. The text of my email is linked here.

I get a generic sorry, best of luck reply. Several weeks go by. I hear from Georgia Tech. Again. I’m including the text of the email in the link here. I’ll pull out some additional points here.

Jimerson opens the email by saying that he is shocked that I no longer work for Georgia Tech. Really? He is the one that asked the question about my continuing employment.

I find out that my health insurance is still active, and will remain active until the end of the month. It’s the last Friday of the month. January 31st is Monday. They tell me this information on the last Friday of the month. I had no reason to believe I still had insurance. I didn’t work for them anymore. Next, I find out that I’ll be responsible for fixing all of the tax related issues connected to their mistake. Again, it falls on me to clean up their mess. I write back to them one final time. My response is included here.

Why I am laying all of this information out now in public? I found out a few nights ago that a Georgia Tech policy does exist for repaying payment overages. That a repayment plan can be done if a hardship exists. The entire HR admin structure of Georgia Tech knew that I was experiencing financial hardship. They either don’t know how to do their jobs. Or leaving out the information about the payment plan option was intentional. I am linking to the pertinent Georgia Tech website here. I’m also included a screen capture of the pertinent information.

Screen capture taken on February 16, 2022

Learning that piece of information was the last straw, and it is why I am laying all of this information out now. I think that covers everything. The only thing I left out was the situation that I referenced regarding my classes in the fall semester. That is another story. I don’t want to get into it at the moment.

You can’t get blood from a stone. I don’t have money for repaying Georgia Tech. I don’t know how I’ll fix my taxes. I don’t have money for a lawyer to look into this situation. This is where I’m at. I woke up a few mornings ago and realized I’m at a place where I seriously thought of asking a pro-labor buttered cat for help. I say that in jest, but the truth is I need help. I need people to share what happened. I need advice.

Note: I didn’t expect I’d write what follows. The content touches on why I wrote what I wrote in my letter giving up my position. It’s rough and raw; I apologize for that.

In looking over the email chain, specifically what I mention in my email announcing that I will not continue my affiliation with Georgia Tech, I realize that I need to provide additional context about what happened in my classroom. I’ll try doing so briefly here. That did not happen, as you’ll see.

I took over 3 class in the middle of the semester. I was the third instructor these students had that semester. Yes, that is correct: I was the third instructor for these students that semester. My goal was to finish the semester by providing continuity, grace, compassion, and a productive classroom experience in our short time remaining. And it was a very short time remaining, especially since the students needed to complete a few more assignments, plus an end of year portfolio.

The classes were themed around the idea of inclusion and exclusion. I did not pick this theme. The students completed a unit where they read Maus. The students also completed a unit on Native American poetry, touching on the course theme. The course was designed to end with playing a computer game. The students expressed their frustration about navigating these complex subjects because they felt they lacked the required depth and context for engaging with these topics. I understood their concerns, what the students expressed felt sincere. I told them about the originally planned closing unit. The students didn’t know what I was even talking about when I mentioned it. These same discussions happened in all three classes.

I listened to their concerns. I offered a proposed unit, and I asked for their feedback. I proposed we could close the semester by playing the game OnlyBans, an educational social justice game that examines online sex work and the role of technology. I talked about the game in the context of the course theme, laying out why it would fit. I suggested that a lot of excellent public writing exists on the topic, which I’d provide them, and it would be easy finding additional resources, too. The department I worked in builds their writing courses around argument and multimodal communication. The game represents an excellent example of bringing together multimodal communication, education, and argument. Plus, the intersection of science and technology and society made it a good fit for the topic– at a school focused on science and technology.

I suggested the game for other practical reasons, too. First, it is free. Second, it’s a browser based game that works across many platforms. They wouldn’t need to download a client like Steam, just so they could download and play a game. The game is very short, maybe less than 5 minutes per playthrough. The game’s short duration means it lends itself to many playthroughs. The game would provide the space for thinking through the content and the course theme, while also allowing time for considering the game’s design elements and the way its form interplays with its educational purpose. Again, robust media coverage exists for the game. This unit would allow for accessing plenty of resources, without the need for throwing students into one more subject without context.

Plus, the game was created by someone affiliated with one of Georgia Tech’s peer institutions. That was another element.

I laid all of these points out for the students. I asked for their feedback. I encouraged that they contact me with questions or concerns. I asked if they’d be interested in a unit like I described. I got many affirmative answers. I told them, once again, contact me if there are any issues. I told each class that I’d consult with each class prior to moving forward.

I didn’t hear any concerns over the next few days. I moved forward with the unit. I created a “reading guide,” which I am well-known for doing. Colleagues ask me about these guides all the time. My guide included background information, additional resources, suggestions on playing the game and what to look for while playing, plus questions. I also included a content warning addressing several points– yes, the sexual aspects, and I also included issues of race, gender, class, and more. I made it clear that students didn’t have to go forward, they didn’t have to participate in the following discussion. I didn’t hear any concerns from the students.

I opened the first day of the unit with another content warning. I invited as much participation as students wanted to do. Again, I made it clear that I did not expect participation. The class discussion was wide ranging. We talked about the game’s content. We covered the connection between the design elements and the content. We talked about algorithms. We talked about code. We talked about the technical aspects of the way social media worked. Students were active. They used the chat function. They used the audio feature.

I did have a concern after I wrapped up all 3 classes. I worried that the subject was boring. I worried it locked some students out of participating. Why? Because we focused so much of the discussion on technical elements and technology. The students shined in how they connected those subjects together. I worried we were too tech focused. Too much code. Too much focus on the engineers building social platforms.

I needed a class for the following semester. I pitched building a course around sex work and the connections with science and technology. The approach was inspired by my use of OnlyBans. I’d expand the idea out, we’d look at various public writing, podcasts, and the role of science and technology. It felt easy, adaptable, and it would save time for me since I was already thinking about it currently. It would provide space for students to explore directions they wanted in their assignments. I pitched the class. I was asked to talk about it more with my supervisor. We did. I addressed their questions and concerns. I told them about my current unit, and that it was going well.

On day two of the unit, in the middle of the second class, my campus email chimed. I forgot to log out. I went to close out the browser. I saw an email from my supervisor. Marked high priority. I paused class. I read the message. I was told to stop the unit immediately. I was told the department received several complains from students about the unit. I did what I was told. I stopped the unit… in the middle of the class.

I will point out here that I pitched the class to the students on the previous Wednesday. I heard no complains or concerns from students, even though I repeatedly invited students to share any issues or concerns. Our discussions in class were more technical, than sexual. Like I mentioned earlier: I worried that the class discussions focused too much on the technology aspect, less the social aspect. It was the following Wednesday. Day two of the unit. I heard no complaints. Again, I ended the unit. I tried explaining to the students what was going on, but it was heard. I was put into a position where I could not trust the students.

I don’t know if the weird and abrupt termination of the unit meant anything to the students. They were confused, sure. Remember how I said students were active participation in the classes? How they used audio? That stopped. They stuck to use only the chat feature from then on. I don’t know if there was a connection.

I bring up what happened in the class for several reasons. First, it is why I talk about my course evaluations in the resignation letter. The evals included positive comments about me; and they also included worrisome gendered comments about the other instructors. I saw these same positive comments directed towards me in the assignment reflections I read. I saw similar positive comments in the portfolio reflections. I heard it when meeting one-on-one with students. Nothing but positivity and appreciation for the care and concern I took in seeing the course through its completion. One student even commented in a portfolio that the OnlyBans game inspired them to think think creatively about their final project; to take chances; to play around with form and the interplay of media and messages. I point all of this out because they students didn’t have to share any of these comments with me directly, but they did. Then, when it came time for the anonymous evaluations they shared the same sentiments. The public and the private matched up.

I am ashamed because I rolled over and didn’t push back. That was one of the hardest things for me to do. I couldn’t for various personal reasons. I worried about my mom, for one thing. I was terrified that these student complaints would morph into something more. The thing is? I don’t think there were any student complaints. The last thing I wanted was to stir up anonymous attacks online by going public. I could handle navigating the online rage machine, but I knew my mom could not. I did nothing.

I hesitate even writing about it all now. My former department is terrified of Campus Reform. They’re terrified of the state government. Those people are bullies. They can’t be accommodated. They can’t be placated. Giving into them means they’ll demand more and more. Here is the thing? Enabling these people will only end in violence. Does that sound extreme? Maybe. I was living and working in Pittsburgh at the time of the Tree of Life pogrom. That experience changed me. We can’t back down from these people; it will only end in violence.

Since January we’ve seen increased attacks against books and content dealing with race. Maus got banned because of nudity and curse words, supposedly. The LGBTQIA+ community is being attacked by legislation, both directly and indirectly. Books and classroom content touching on LGBTQIA+ themes are getting attacked.

All of these issues go together.

All of it.

Crossposting: Academia, Your Whorephobia is Showing

I wrote a great deal of content for Pedagogy and American Literary Studies over the past year, even though I didn’t spend time in the college classroom. I should clarify my statement given the past year plus: Currently, I don’t work in academia. I don’t work at all. No time in the classroom. Literally? Figuratively? Side note: I am looking for work.

My PALS content for the past year or so covered various topics. I wrote extensively for PALS. One of the most active contributors to the site. Because I had the time? Perhaps. A lot of time to think, certainly. A great deal of time for thinking about the various ways academic life intersects with personal life. How it informs my sense of self. Who I am; and what that career and career path mean / meant to me.

My most recent PALS piece might be the one I’m most proud of… at least in terms of what I wrote overall during the past year or so. The piece hits many topics. Graduate Student life, social media, sex work, BDSM, and the role of advisors in the graduate school experience. However, the main theme explores how academics love the gossip more than committing themselves to addressing underlying intersecting issues. My essay takes on the case of my friend, Dr. Snow. I go on a deep dive into the issues I mentioned earlier in the paragraph. The core of the piece calls out academics for abandoning Snow during a harassment campaign in Fall 2020.

I hope you enjoy reading the essay. You’ll find an excerpt of the essay below, plus a PALS link so you can (hopefully) continue reading.

Academia, Your Whorephobia is Showing

Academics love a good dragging of higher education’s broken systems.

Academics got exactly such a dragging when The Chronicle of Higher Education dropped a long-form feature essay on December 5th, 2019.  The essay detailed a first-person account written by a recent PhD graduate abandoned, shamed, and harassed by their dissertation advisor. The essay’s author found themselves deserted by their advisor in the early throes of the academic job season. The advisor’s simple abandonment wasn’t good enough. The advisor intentionally, and maliciously, pulled their student’s letters of recommendation from Interfolio, doing so for no other reason than they disagreed with the author’s response to an emergency financial situation.

My summary’s broad strokes fail in addressing all the injustices described in the original piece, but readers likely recognize the story of Mistress Snow. A bomb dropped on academia when Mistress Snow’s essay, “I Told My Mentor I Was a Dominatrix” appeared in CHE. The essay quickly went viral. Mistress Snow’s account on Twitter took off. And we all benefited from one more advocate for the precarious, for grad students, for workers, for the marginalized, for sex workers, and for the ignored. The excellent tweets, humor, shitposting, and Snow’s not-gonna-tolerate-your-shit-attitude helped, too.

We know academia finds itself awash in awful advisor stories, provided one listens to voices outside of the echo chamber. In retrospect, the on-the-surface seemingly seedy, salacious, sexual aspect of Snow’s story likely contributed to the essay taking off as academics circulated the essay on social media. Yes, Snow dragged academia, but surely some of the scintillating appeal for academics, at least, derived from Snow’s work as a dominatrix.

Continue reading more here.

Bethlehem Boarding School Roster Transcription: Editorial Decisions

Project Background
This transcription project focuses on the Bethlehem Boarding School operated by the Moravians.

My transcription of the Bethlehem Boarding School roster began as part of my early work on students attending the Boarding School in the 1790s. My initial work on the Boarding School focused on the March 1792 the visit of several Iroquois dignitaries to Bethlehem. I wanted an easily accessible document where I could collect basic biographical information about the students and their families. Additionally, I wanted a document where I could add biographical information that I found during my ongoing research. The purpose of the document wasn’t necessarily a true transcription. I wanted a resource that I could consult so I could inject my work with some narrative detail about the students and their families. The beginning stages of this transcription focused on the period between 1786 and roughly 1795. My early work on the Boarding School culminated in an essay that appeared in the edited collection, Liminality, Hybridity, and American Women’s Literature: Thresholds in Women’s Writing.

A Research Intervention
Screenshot_2020-06-19 A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Bethlehem Female SeminaryIn the early days of my research I came across William C. Reichel’s A History of the Rise, Progress, and Present Condition of the Bethlehem Female Seminary. Reichel’s book is an exhaustive history of the Bethlehem Boarding School. The book includes the history of the school as written by Reichel, and it features a significant portion of excerpted archival documents. During the time I spent working in the Moravian Archives in Bethlehem, I ran across many of the documents used by Reichel. I have come to rely heavily on Reichel’s book as a work of history and as a source of primary documents. As I saw more of the original documents Reichel worked with for the creation of his book, the more I came to admire his modest editorial touch when it came to textual editing. In short, I trust the accuracy of Reichel’s work. I was more than thrilled to find an inexpensive copy of Reichel’s book for sale at the Moravian Archives.

However, all of the above is not to say that Reichel’s book is not without problems for someone researching the Bethlehem Boarding School. In the course of my research the most significant problem I ran into was Reichel’s transcription of the Boarding School Roster. Here and there were a few missing items or a few minor inaccuracies. The most frustrating thing about Reichel’s transcription was the decision to organize the roster alphabetically by year, thus eliminating some of the most useful information for tracking down subsequent information about the students and their families. Reichel’s omission of significant parts of the roster isn’t a problem if one wants to follow up on information about Ann and Maria Jay, the daughters of John Jay, but his omission becomes troublesome when attempting to follow up on students that were not the daughters or wards of men and women with deep roots in archival resources.

The roster of the Bethlehem Boarding School found in the Moravian Archives is a rolling list of students entering the school. Generally, each entry for a student contains the following information:

  • The student’s name
  • The guardian’s name
  • The student’s hometown
  • The student’s date of birth
  • The student’s arrival date

IMG_0660All of the fields listed are important pieces of information. However, the arrival date of each student might be the most helpful piece of information in uncovering threads of connection between the families sending students to the Boarding School. When a large group of students arrives from the same location on the same date, it suggests a connection between the students. Having access to the specific arrival date represents breadcrumbs leading to the establishment of a connection, whether it is through direct family ties or through shared business, political, or social connections between families and individuals.

While it is easy to examine Reichel’s chronological and alphabetical rendition of the roster and discern connections between Jays and Livingstons, it is more difficult to discern the connections between less well-known families. For example, in Reichel’s roster Caroline Broome and Amelia Platt are two young girls arriving in Bethlehem in 1793. However, the archival version of the roster informs us that both girls arrived in Bethlehem on the same day; Caroline Broom from New Haven, Connecticut and Amelia Platt from New York. The additional nexus of information regarding the two girls is enough to begin piecing together a connection. In this case, the two girls are related. Samuel Broome and Jeremiah Platt were in-laws and business partners engaging, at various times, in business dealings in both Connecticut and New York. In another example, the roster’s specific arrival dates are helpful in establishing connections between the Bowen and Halsey families of Rhode Island. While someone versed in the genealogies of various early American families might discern these connections through a glance at Reichel’s version of the roster, my transcription of the roster affords the opportunity to find the breadcrumbs of connection between students, thus alleviating the person consulting the transcription of needing to be an expert on the social and family connections of early America.

A Digital Humanities Intervention
The roster of the Bethlehem Boarding School, and its existence in the form of my transcribed spreadsheet, represents data— nearly 20,000 points of data. Not all of these data fields existed in the original roster. Many of the additional fields created for the spreadsheet replicate existing information from the roster, but these points are rendered separately so they can be accessed, read, and used by various digital humanities tools. The spreadsheet proves not only a useful resource for consultation; it also provides an organized and usable data set. With the assistance of the spreadsheet we can map various points of location, we can chart changes over time. If there is a tool—or if there is a code written—the data here can be mined.

Microsoft Excel non-commercial use - 0 Draft Transcription Bethlehem Boarding School Student Record.xlsx 6_19_2020 9_20_12 AMThe Fields
Currently, the transcribed version of the roster contains the following fields:

  • Student Full Name
  • Student First Name
  • Student Middle Name
  • Student Last Name
  • Guardian Name
  • Guardian First Name
  • Guardian Middle Name
  • Guardian Last Name
  • Guardian Gender
  • Relationship
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Municipality
  • State
  • Country
  • Arrival Date
  • Admission Year
  • Student Birth Date
  • Additional DH Specific Fields

Editorial Guidelines
My transcription of the Bethlehem Boarding School roster began its life as a reference tool for my personal research. During the early stages of the document’s creation I did not employ any specific transcription guidelines, other than employing best-practices for creating a fair-copy transcription. In other words, I transcribed what was on the archival page. My initial approach to transcription reflects my training in the theory and practice of textual editing. Some entries, in certain cases, were difficult to decipher; in such cases I cross-referenced my transcription with Reichel. In general, my use of Reichel aided me in figuring out letters I couldn’t read. In some cases, Reichel provided alternative spellings for the names of people and locations. I did not transcribe the document with specific guidelines for reconciling the differences between what I saw on the page and what Reichel saw on the page.

However, it is now time for me to work through the final edits and standardization of my transcription. Below you’ll find a description of my guidelines and the reasoning behind them.

The Transcription, In General
In the main, I intend to follow exactly what is written on the archival page. Specific deviations will be detailed below. At the time of writing this document, the most signification editorial interventions occur during the period between 1786 and 1795, representing the time that I’ve spent the bulk of my research on over the past few years. These interventions reflect the information that I’ve gathered from sources like Find A Grave, Founders Online, city directories, and contemporary newspapers. My transcription, regardless of any deviation from the original archival source, remains a usable document. Frankly, in terms of textual editing, the stakes of this project aren’t the same stakes of editing the poetry of Emily Dickinson or the plays of Shakespeare. Any subsequent editorial changes, beyond these guidelines for establishing a document that moves beyond a rough transcription, will be for the purposes of facilitating additional research. In short, the transcription is a usable document as it exists right now, but it is a living document that will benefit from additional research that confirms names and adds omitted information.

Student Names and Guardian Names
Outside of the period 1786-1795, I’ve recorded the student names as they were written in the original roster. My initial research indicates that in many instances students’ first and middle names were Germanized. Based on future research I intend to use Anglicized names, but in cases of students with direct ties to the Moravians, I will use the Germanized names. There is an interesting quirk of the roster that facilitates identifying students that were part of the Moravian community—their names are often written in the German Kurrent script used by the Moravians. While standardizing the names aids in further research using genealogical sites and archival newspapers, guardian names are usually enough to start tracking down students. Additionally, the names of several guardians are abbreviated; I will replace these abbreviations with full names, when possible.

In some cases the roster records the occupation of a student’s guardian. I have included this information if it is indicated. I’ve added this information if I’ve run across it during the course of my research. Many of the men and women that sent students to the Boarding School wore many different hats of the course of their lives. Further standardization of this aspect of the spreadsheet will likely reflect how this document might be used in various DH projects.

I’ve begun the process of standardizing location names by modernizing them. In some instances, locations no longer exist. Some locations were consolidated into other communities. Some locations are specific down to the place of residence— Livingston Manor, for example. Standardization of locations is guided by using modern place names for the purposes of digital mapping. In some instances, I’ve retained locations (Philadelphia neighborhoods, for example) because they can be successfully mapped with tools like Google Maps.

Location Update
My spreadsheet contains a handful of fields related to locations. First, there is the location listing for the original transcription of the Boarding School Roster. Second, there are the added data fields for municipalities and states. Originally, I proposed to standardize location names. I will still standardize and modernize location names for the added DH-data fields related to locations. However, I’ll record locations as originally listed on the Boarding School Roster. What does this mean? Cities mentioned in the roster, like Philadelphia and New York, will be listed as such; the DH-specific data fields pertaining to location will be updated to include states. Locations listed like Jersey, for example, will be listed as Jersey, but the location DH-specific data fields will be updated to New Jersey.

The fact that I’ve written a great deal about my transcription might suggest that it is currently a mess. However, that is not the case. The transcription as it exists now is relatively accurate and, more importantly, usable as it exists right now. In essence, what I’ve articulated in this document sets the stages for the standardization of my transcription as I prepare to share it with others and use it in other digital projects. Feel free to leave a comment below with any thoughts or observations about the document.