James K. Polk Project reaches the finish line

Belated congratulations to the University of Tennessee’s own James K. Polk Project for completing its mission after more than six decades of scholarly effort,  The project’s staff have sent the fourteenth and final volume of annotated Polk papers off for publication.

UT has also been home base for two other presidential documentary editing projects: the papers of Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson.  Only one other university has hosted multiple presidential papers endeavors.

You could make a good case that documentary editors make a bigger and more lasting contribution to the historical profession than any other group of people, except maybe the archivists who preserve and provide access to the originals.  Books and articles will go out of date, but researchers will keep turning to the primary sources again and again, long after the folks who collate and shepherd them through publication have passed on.  Heck, this afternoon I was poring over material from a couple of documentary editing projects that ended more than a century ago.

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