I own a "manuscript" that is a valuable source to me because it mentions family members I wouldn't otherwise know about (of course, I now have to find out who they are!). The trouble is, I don't know what this "manuscript" is. My sister and I have always referred to it as a letter, but I'm pretty sure that is an incorrect description.
This is what I've got (along with a "provenance"): Sometime before 1943 Charles Shafer (my paternal grandmother's brother) asked their first cousin Eliza Hoover Wantz for her reminiscences because she was the oldest of their generation. After Lide (Eliza) and her husband died, Uncle Charley collected those papers. He visited us in St. Louis on his return to Benton Harbor and read some of this information to us. This so intrigued my sister Rae that she asked Uncle Charley for copies.
Later that year Uncle Charley sent Rae carbon copies of his typewritten transcriptions of Lide's letter and additional reminiscences, as well as a covering letter. I believe these were second or third carbons, and the typewriter wasn't very clean, making capital letters almost illegible at times. (Third carbon isn't an insult — Rae was only 12 at the time, how was Uncle Charley to know that she would treasure and care for these papers for 68 years.) Included in these transcriptions that Uncle Charley made are comments added by Uncle Charley. I THINK the voice is clear because he initialed them and usually also included a self-reference in the notes. In 2008, when I began to work on the family genealogy (and also the family history if I can achieve it), I asked Rae for a copy of these papers; her husband went off to Kinko's and mailed me copies of the complete set.
So this is what I have: copier copies of a typewritten transcription of handwritten papers I have never looked at. (I "saw" them in Uncle Charley's hands, but I have never looked at the contents.) Note added as I proofread this: I think I have a derivitive source containing primary information (because Uncle Charley's notes are also primary); the "evidence" is mixed — both direct and Indirect. Does this sound right?
To muddle things further, I transcribed these papers into the computer, adding additional comments in the form of footnotes. This is what I am actually consulting when that part of the family leads me to "Lide's Letter." If the above note is correct then this is a transcription of the "derivitive source …", etc. Again, does this sound correct?
I think I have several questions here:
a) WHAT are the papers — are they unpublished manuscript?
b) do I have TWO sources: copier copy of typewritten (see a) owned by "formal reference to my sister" plus computer transcription of b?
c) in the computer transcription, should I use an * in place of each illegible letter? In the footnotes I could record "best guess" and/or any subsequent clarification of these names.
d) the italic parts of the above questions apply to proof standards rather than to sources and source citations, but they indicate another part of my puzzlement — a fourth question.
I truly think this is a great holding, but I just don't know what it is when describing it for future readers of our family tree and family history.
Can anyone help!