Nova Scotia Archives

Mi'kmaq Holdings Resource Guide

Using this Resource




Use of quotation marks and square brackets

We have used the following editorial devices as important signals to users of the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide:


Quotation marks   " / "

It is very important to show the difference between the original wording used in historical documents and the wording used by people in the present day to describe historical documents. To demonstrate this difference, we use quotation marks to identify original wording and keep it separate.

In the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide, the use of quotation marks around words or phrases shows that the enclosed words have been quoted directly, word for word, from the original.

In the Virtual Exhibit, for example, information in quotation marks is information quoted directly from the photograph or artwork. For instance, any notes written on the back of the original photograph, or in the photo album in which the photograph has been kept, are presented in quotation marks, and indicate wording provided by the creator of the item.

Example:  Louis and Evangeline Pictou, Lower Granville "Cutting wood for baskets"

In the above title, the words "Cutting wood for baskets" were written by the photographer, Helen Creighton, just below this photograph in her photo album.

The use of quotation marks in this way enhances understanding and searchability, while making it clear to researchers that we are not altering the original wording of historical documents.

The additional wording (Louis and Evangeline Pictou, Lower Granville) has been provided to assist in identifying both the people in the photograph and the place the photograph was taken. It is also meant to help you associate this photograph with the other six photographs taken of the same scene, that are all kept on the same page in Helen Creighton's album.

The additional wording also takes into consideration the full-text search capability of the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide database, to make a search on Louis and Evangeline Pictou more successful.


Square Brackets   [ / ]

Very often, quoting directly from historical documents is difficult, especially if the documents include poor penmanship or incorrect spelling; if the papers are torn, tattered or stained; or if the ink or pencil marks have faded over time. Yet, these difficulties do not make the records any less important.

In the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide, the use of square brackets shows that a portion of the wording of the original document is illegible or missing.

Sometimes, through research, we have been able to find out what wording should go into the hard-to-read portion. This information has been enclosed in square brackets so researchers will know it is what the original document said.

Sometimes, we have tried to find out what wording should go in but we cannot. In this case, we place a question mark [?] or three dots [...] in square brackets to show that we know there are words missing or illegible, but we have not been able to reconstruct the wording.

The same applies to dates: our best-informed estimates of dates are enclosed in square brackets. If we do not know the date in question, the date field has been left blank.

In the Virtual Exhibit, information in square brackets may also provide additional information regarding an image, but gleaned from a source other than the creator of the image.

Example:

[Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection, NSM: The women are not identified but the one at left wears a skirt known to have been made for Marie Antoinette Thomas; it is now in the collections of the Nova Scotia Museum.]

In the above note, the information about the skirt was found in notes given to Nova Scotia Archives by the Nova Scotia Museum (NSM) when undertaking research for its Mi'kmaq Portraits Collection project.