Editorial Method

This website presents transcripts of the journal of George Q. Cannon. These transcripts were prepared largely according to the editorial procedures developed by the Joseph Smith Papers Project.

Rules of Transcription

Entries in Cannon’s journals were made by Cannon himself or by various scribes. The initial transcriptions for this website were made from the original journals. The transcripts have been verified at least two times and many of them three times by different sets of eyes against scanned images of the documents. Additionally, the transcripts have been reviewed against the original journals.


Over the half century during which he kept journals, Cannon used various methods of journal keeping. Especially in the earlier years, he or his scribes wrote his journal in small pocket books, herein called daybooks. Nine of these are extant. For the most part, the contents of the daybooks were transcribed (with some revisions) into other, typically larger, journals. Later on, Cannon dictated his journals to scribes. The copy-text for the online journal was taken from the daybooks or, where daybooks were not available, from the larger journals. The larger journals provide the bulk of the copy-text for the online journal. In instances where daybook readings are corrected or expanded in the subsequent journal, the latter readings are marked with braces [{}]. The relationship between the daybooks and the larger journals is illustrated in the accompanying chart.


Physical descriptions and photographs of the daybooks and larger journals can be found at the Photos page on this site.

Date headings and pagination

Standardized headings giving dates and days of the week have been supplied in a larger typeface for each entry to aid in navigating the journal. Original first dates are retained in the transcript. Preprinted dates are not included. Original or implied page numbers are not reproduced.


Paragraphs are given in a standard format, with indention regularized and with blank lines between paragraphs omitted. Horizontal rules and other separating devices inscribed in the original are not reproduced. Where blank spaces were used between sentences to signal breaks in thought, they are rendered as paragraph breaks. The same is done for dashes used by some scribes as paragraph markers.


If Cannon or one of his scribes intended to underline the whole word or phrase but did not, the entire word or phrase is underlined here. Likewise, if more than the intended word or phrase was underlined, only the intended word or phrase is underlined in the final copy. Double or wavy underlining is regularized to single underlining.

Cancellations and insertions

Words canceled in the original have been struck through in this publication.

Insubstantial cancellations and insertions—those used only to correct spelling and punctuation—are silently emended, and only the final spelling and punctuation are reproduced. If the correction alters the meaning, the underlying word is transcribed as a strikeout and the correction written thereafter as an <insertion>. If it is apparent that the correction was made immediately after, the preferred word simply follows the canceled one without insertion marks.

Cancellations and insertions are transcribed letter by letter when an original word was changed to a new word simply by canceling or inserting letters at the beginning or end of the word—such as “sparingly” or “attend<ed>”. However, for cases in which an original word was changed to a new word by canceling or inserting letters in the middle of the word, the original word is stricken in its entirety followed by the revised word in its entirety.

Insertions above or below a line of text or written in a margin are indicated by angle brackets < > at the apparent intended point of insertion.

Pasted-in and other inserted materials

Cannon or his scribes sometimes pasted or otherwise inserted external documents into his journal. In such cases, the inserted material is transcribed at the intended point of insertion.

Cannon or his scribes frequently used some form of an asterisk to indicate placement, typically a circle with an X in the middle and with dots in the interstices of the X. These placement marks are rendered as two asterisks (**) next to each other.

Documents that are referenced but not actually inserted in the journal are not transcribed.

Editorial insertions and descriptions

Words, letters, or punctuation marks inserted by the editors to expand, correct, or clarify the text are enclosed in square brackets [ ]. A question mark is added to conjectured editorial insertions.

Significant descriptions of the textual medium, especially those inhibiting legibility, are italicized and enclosed in brackets: [hole burned in paper], [leaf torn], [blank].

An illegible (but not canceled) word is represented by the italicized word illegible enclosed in brackets. An illegible character within a partially legible word is rendered with a hollow diamond. Repeated diamonds represent the approximate number of illegible characters (for example: sto◊◊◊s).

Illegible cancellations are not included.


Cannon sometimes wrote information in Hawaiian that he wished to keep confidential. He learned Hawaiian as a young missionary in the Sandwich Islands from 1851 to 1855, and he wrote journal entries in that language throughout his life. The Hawaiian entries in the journal have been independently translated by two experts in the language, after which the translations were harmonized by a third scholar. Translations of Cannon’s words, phrases, and sentences written in Hawaiian are included in the body of the text and enclosed by square brackets. For extensive translations of Hawaiian, endnotes direct the reader to the original Hawaiian.

Brackets in the original

Cannon’s square brackets in the original text serve the purpose of parentheses and are rendered as such.


Single instances of periods, commas, apostrophes, and dashes are all faithfully rendered without regard to their grammatical correctness, except that periods are not reproduced when they appear immediately before a word with no space between the period and the word. Also, in some cases of repetitive punctuation, only the final mark or final intention is transcribed while any other characters are silently omitted. Where asterisks were used in the original to signify an ellipsis, they have been standardized to ellipsis points. Flourishes and other decorative inscriptions are not reproduced or noted. Dashes are standardized to either em or en lengths.

Hyphenations and line ends

Words hyphenated or otherwise divided at the end of one line and the beginning of another are reproduced as though written on the same line and hyphenated or not according to Cannon’s normal usage or, where that is not clear, modern usage.

Line ends are neither typographically nor symbolically represented.


Cannon and his scribes had various ways of handling superscriptions. These various forms are accepted without regularization.

Catch words and unintended repeated words and phrases

Unintended repeated syllables, words, and phrases, including doubled words (or catch words) found at the ending of one line or page and the beginning of the next, are silently omitted in the transcriptions.

Silent emendations

Simple and obvious corrections made by strikover in the typed material are accepted silently. Also emended silently are obvious typing errors that would not have been the words dictated by Cannon—e.g., “sahpe [shape] of food,” “rpison [prison],” “ privileve [privilege] of seeing me,” “Brother Smauel [Samuel] H. Hill,” “Elizabeht [Elizabeth].”

A frequent typographical error, indicated often by the letter being positioned below the line, is the use of a lowercase letter where the uppercase would have been intended (e.g., “phoebe” for “Phoebe”). Another is the unintended capitalization of the second letter (e.g., “SMith”). These are corrected silently.

However, typed words that are clearly misspellings (e.g., “exibitions” and “employe”) are kept, as are Cannon’s consistent misspellings in his early journals such as “privelege,” “heigth,” and “accomodating.”

When two or more words were inscribed or typed together without any intervening space and the words were not a compound according to standard contemporary usage or the writer’s or scribe’s consistent practice, the words are transcribed as separate words for readability.

False starts are not recorded.

Directions for subsequent writing

Directions for subsequent writing are handled silently. For example, on 9 December 1881, the journal records, “While I was engaged writing in the (For continuation see page 183) (continued from page 13) hotel I happened to lift my eyes and caught sight of Bro. Nephi.” This is transcribed as “While I was engaged writing in the hotel I happened to lift my eyes and caught sight of Bro. Nephi.”

Policies for Sacred, Private, and Confidential Information

Preparing the journals of religious leaders for publication poses serious ethical challenges. The work of these leaders, by its very nature, involves them in many matters that are sacred, private, or confidential. Matters of great sacredness deserve reverence. Divulging some kinds of information may violate principles of privacy, and persons who confess to religious leaders or communicate other information in a confidential setting expect that leaders will maintain their confidences. The Church History Department has long-standing policies that govern the release or publication of sacred, private, or confidential information. In publishing Cannon’s journal, we have sought to honor these principles while also making as much information as possible available to the public and clearly indicating any omissions. As such, some details of the original journal have been withheld, such as information about temple ceremonies, official meeting minutes of the Quorum of the Twelve, and names of individuals involved in church disciplinary councils. We have also occasionally redacted portions of some journal entries that refer to deeply personal matters between Cannon and his family that he clearly wished to keep confidential. In every instance where the text has been redacted, a notation has been made in the text explaining the reason for and extent of the redaction. In the entire journal, approximately one percent of the text (based on word count) has been withheld for these reasons.

Approach to Annotation

The earlier print publication of Cannon’s 1849–1855 journal included extensive annotation. In contrast with those volumes and with previous publications of the Church Historian’s Press (such as The Joseph Smith Papers), the rest of the Cannon journal is being made available only digitally, with only a few document images and without historical annotation aside from some introductory material, including a list of major events prefacing each year of the journal. Such an approach allows the press to make this crucial historical record available quickly and more economically. A fully annotated Cannon journal would require some twenty volumes roughly the same size as a volume of The Joseph Smith Papers.

Cite this page

Editorial Method, The Journal of George Q. Cannon, accessed May 22, 2024 https://www.churchhistorianspress.org/george-q-cannon/reference-material/editorial-method