Past challenges

Christmas and New Year Challenge: Continuing Notebook D

The catalogue number of Arthur Stone’s notebook D in the Free Library of Philadelphia is cdc5890012. For our transcription challenges, we are following the sequence of catalogued page numbers. In November, we transcribed pages 02 and 04 (pages 01 and 03 are blank) and found sections from two of Sydney Smith’s essays:

  • 01 Blank
  • 02 ‘Spring Guns and Man Traps’ (final sentences of the essay)
  • 03 Blank
  • 04 ‘On the Beautiful’ (3 sentences from the middle of the essay); ‘Spring Guns and Man Traps’ (sentences immediately preceding the final ones on page 02)

For our Christmas and New Year challenge, we are transcribing pages 05 and 06. What can we expect to find there? Here are a couple of thoughts:

  • If pages 02 and 04 of notebook D transcribe the end of the ‘Spring Guns and Man Traps’ essay, some of the remaining pages may contain the rest of it. So, you need to download the source text and use it.
  • Likewise, we may find more sections of ‘On the Beautiful’. The top of page 04 seems to begin halfway through a sentence. Where is the rest of the sentence? Can we find the sections that come before and after the passage by using the source text?

As Arthur seems to be jumping around from text to text, perhaps we will also find something completely new! While you transcribe, it’s best to keep an open mind and remember these questions:

  • Are the lines connected to each other in sequence? Does any part of any page make up a coherent text? If so, can you identify the source?
  • Are the pages connected to each other in sequence?
  • Are the pages connected to other pages we have transcribed? Can we match the source texts we know about to the shorthand on the page?
  • Is any part of any page just notes or corrections? Do the characters represent individual words and phrases written just for practice?

You can explore the ‘Man Traps and Spring Guns’ essay here. ‘On the Beautiful’ (which comes in three parts) can be found here.

Please download a contest entry form and complete as much of it as you can, emailing us your submissions by 31 January 2024.

Festive wishes and a Happy New Year to all of our Decoders!

Download a competition entry form

The same form is available in .docx and .pdf format for your convenience.