I have previously written about the wonderful resource tool that is, The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence by William Edwards and Ed Steers. William Edwards went through and painstakingly transcribed the bulk of the National Archives’ record group M599, the government’s collected evidence after Lincoln’s assassination. With editorial annotations by Ed Steers, the book is the best tool for researching the Lincoln assassination primary sources. When used in conjunction with Fold3.com to view the documents themselves, the book becomes of even greater value.
While I could sing the accolades of The Evidence for hours, this post is actually about a new and equally wonderful resource by William Edwards, The Lincoln Assassination Trial – The Court Transcripts.
Now I know what you are thinking, “I already have a copy of the conspiracy trial. Why would I buy another one?” It is true that there are many editions and reprints of the conspiracy trial out there. There were three different versions of the trial (Pitman, Poore, and Peterson) and each have been reprinted many times over the years. Even William Edwards’ partner on The Evidence, Ed Steers, released his own reprint of the Pitman edition of the trial. However, as valuable as all of these versions are, William’s new eBook is better. Let me tell you why:
1. This transcription is the most accurate. This transcription was made straight from the microfilmed images of the court’s official copy of each day’s trial proceedings. The words and testimonies have not been summarized or altered in anyway. The words presented are exactly as they were written by the court’s team of stenographers in 1865.
2. This transcription is the most complete. While publisher Benjamin Perley Poore’s editions of the trial are equally accurate since they were taken from the same source material, they are also incomplete. His fourth and final volume of the trial transcript was never released due to a lack of public interest and low sales of the other volumes. Poore’s editions, therefore, are missing the testimonies of around twenty witnesses. In addition, Poore’s versions lack the closing arguments made by the prosecution and defense attorneys. These missing testimonies and closing arguments are found, in full, in this account.
3. This digitized version of the trial employs four different finding aids and is searchable. This digitized version of the trial makes reading and researching easy. Any part of the trial can be found based on section, NARA reel number, date of testimony, or witness name. Also, by pressing Ctrl+F while reading, you can do a search for any keyword in the entire trial.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a version of the conspiracy trial to purchase, look no further. If you already have a copy of the trial, you also need to get this version. For researching, there is no better version of the trial out there.
Buy it from Google Books today. You won’t regret it.