Editorial Method

    Our goal in this edition is to present all known correspondence to and from John Cotton Jr. in chronological sequence and faithful transcription. All letters and documents are printed in full, excepting text lost through the deterioration of the archival material. Unlike many collections, these transcriptions also include notes made on the letters’ address side. Cotton frequently indicated how long letters took in transit, and scholars of communications may find this data useful. We have striven to preserve the style and forms of Cotton and his contemporaries to the degree that this is possible in print, believing this approach to be important to scholars. We have likewise tried to minimize editorial intrusions in the documents, adding our marks only when necessary for clarity. We have provided footnotes for each document where required, to identify individuals and places, to clarify vague textual passages or to help contextualize letters within events of the period. Our purpose is to assist the reader’s understanding and appreciation for the documents without unduly altering the original writers’ creation.

    Lofty purposes must occasionally bow to practicality and publishers’ protocols, however, and the written word cannot be perfectly rendered in print. For the correspondence we have adopted the following rules and methods.