LPedia:Contributing Historical Documents

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Preserving and presenting historical documents relating to the Libertarian Party is an important function of LPedia. We welcome the help of activists across the country in building this collection of documents. While the Historical Preservation Committee is currently focused on organizing volunteers to collect and present documents relating to the national LP, activists in each state are generally in a better position to do this for their own state, both because of their better understanding of the history of the LP in that state and because they are more likely to have access to the original material.

However, it is important that certain basic principles and practices be followed, in order to maximize the usefulness of the resulting collection. These principles and practices — including the question of what is a "historical document" in the first place — are discussed in general terms in the Manual of Style. If you haven't read at least that section yet, please do so now.

Here we present the same issues in another way, a sort of "how to" practical guide for the volunteers who are going to be doing this kind of work. We outline all the steps involved in actually adding an existing document to LPedia. And this presentation is organized by type of document, so that we can focus on the points that are most important for each type of document.

Anyone doing a significant amount of this type of work should still be familiar with everything discussed in the Manual of Style. And you will need to consult the Manual of Style for guidance if you find yourself wanting to add a document of a type that isn't covered here. In such a case, you will need to apply the general principles yourself. But if you are already familiar with the general ideas and just need a reminder of how they apply to one of the more common types of document, the outlines below will in many cases be sufficient.

Overview

The document that you want to contribute may already be available in a computer-readable format, either from the person who originally created it or posted on a web site. But if only a hardcopy version is available, a good first step is to scan it and create a PDF -- see the Document Scanning Guidelines. This may or may not end up being the best intermediate form from which to create a Wikitext version, but it's a good thing to have anyway, to show how the document looked back when it was current. If the document is already available as a PDF, you can upload that file directly. Either way, upload the PDF using the "Upload file" link found in the menu at the left

In addition, you may want to create a Document page with the same contents in Wikitext format. If you already have a file with the contents in plain text or in some common word processing format, it's probably best to start with that. If you don't have that but you do have a PDF that was generated by some sort of word processing software, you can extract the text from that -- some PDF handling software has an export function for this purpose, but you can also do it with a simple copy and paste. This may leave you with a significant amount of work to do to get the format right, but it should at least give you an accurate copy of the text itself. If you have only hardcopy, you may still be able to get a usable first approximation by a combination of scanning and OCR. And if all else fails you always have the option of typing the whole thing in.

Newsletters

Bylaws and Platforms

If you have a PDF, upload it using the "Upload file" link found in the menu at the left. For the Bylaws or Platform of a state affiliate, use a file name of the form "SS_Bylaws_YYYY.pdf" or "SS_Platform_YYYY.pdf", where SS is the usual two-letter state code and YYYY is the year.

If you want to post a Wikitext version, create a page with a name like "Document:Sssssss Bylaws YYYY" or "Document:Sssssss Platform YYYY", where Sssssss is the name of the state and YYYY is the year. Follow the Text Conversion Guidelines to format the text in a way that preserves the spirit of the original document while making it display nicely as a wiki article. These kinds of documents will usually have a format for which it will be appropriate to use Wikitext section headings. If the original document included a table of contents, include that and use __NOTOC__ to suppress the generation of a new one. If the original did not include a table of contents (but did have obvious articles/sections), use <div class="doctocnonum">__TOC__</div> to create one that is labeled as not being in the original. If you also uploaded a PDF, use the DocAlt PDF template to create a link to it.

Finally, make sure there is a link to this document from some appropriate place. For the Platform or Bylaws of a state or local affiliate, this will either be the main article about that affiliate, or another page that is linked from that main page. If there is already a list of similar documents, add a link this new one there. If not, start such a list. Link to the Wikitext version (Document: page) if you created one (and people will be able to get to the PDF from there, if there is one, because you used the DocAlt PDF template), otherwise link directly to the PDF file using a link like "[[Media:CA_Bylaws_1995.pdf|Bylaws as of 1995]]".

Meeting Minutes

Committee and Officer Reports

Press Releases

Fundraising and Membership Recruitment Letters

Brochures, Pamphlets, Flyers

Personal Correspondence

"E-Mails"