When we first began our anthology project, I was overwhelmed by the amount of documents, collections and literary works that were readily available to me. Before even jumping in and exploring I developed a preconceived idea of what I wanted to find; personal letters that I could contextualize within the colonial period. It did not take me long to realize that searching for antique, personal pieces within the large South Carolina colonial period collection was nothing like browsing the worldwide wide web with endless options—this was going to take a lot more digging and exploring.
The South Carolina Historical Society was without a doubt my greatest tool within this project. The employees their were knowledgeable and able to help point me in the right direction in terms of the topics I was interested in. As I dug through business archives, maps and photos, and historical accounts I found myself growing concerned that I might not find personal letters I hoped for. Just when I was about to change gears and take my research in a different direction, I found The Letter Book of Eliza Luis Pinckney. It had just the personal level of content I was looking for, and I found myself intrigued by the letters she addressed to her Father on the subject of creating Indigo; something I discovered was one of South Carolina’s largest cash crop. In turn, when I discovered the poem, Indico, that was published in the South Carolina Gazette, I knew it was going to be my second source document.
When first discovering Indico existed, I realized it was only a small piece of the long poem that was published in the book. When looking at the books bibliography, I saw they pulled it from a newspaper that was published on August 25, 1757. My steps to achieve this full poem led me to a large machine used only for microfilm. After much difficulty in retrieving the microfilm that had that year on it (I searched 3 different libraries) I finally found it. After scanning it and printing it out I knew I was going to have a challenge transcribing it. The newspaper that was put on microfilm was really worn and damaged. At the very end of the poem there was a tear in the newspaper that made some of the lines completely illegible. Weaving over the poem and transcribing it the absolute best I can was one of my biggest challenges, but something that comes with the territory when exploring antique documents.
This process made me see a side of editing that I’ve never even thought about in terms of creating an anthology. After going through my own experience with creating an anthology, I know that the research process that editors go through and what documents they happen to come across can greatly effect how people view and understand history.