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Fieldnote Preparation


Preparing these fieldnotes for publication on the internet reminds me of Ringo Starr’s  once popular song “It don’t come easy.”  The process has proved more difficult than expected.

Initially, I estimated that I possessed 1,500 pages of notes.  It turned out that I had over 16,000 pages and, because of their delicate condition, all had to be scanned by hand.  The scanning process took over six months and was  more expensive than expected.  (I mention the cost because I funded the project myself.)

Since a large portion of my fieldnotes contain handwriting, the notes were scanned into Adobe Acrobat as images.  The most obvious way to get the Acrobat’s PDFs up on the web is to convert them into HTML documents.  Adobe’s conversion process makes a mess of the notes. does an excellent job of conversion.  But it does not allow me to use specific page links which, when one looks at the Detailed Outline, clearly are needed to find the pages one is looking for.

The default position became putting the scanned PDFs on the web as PDFs.  The problem faced is that some browsers work better than others in doing this.  Safari noticeably chops off the top sections of many pages.  Chrome works well in moving from a specific link in the Detailed Outline to the desired page.  But in backing out of the link, it goes to the start of the Detailed Outline itself.  Searching through various related links, one had to repeatedly scroll back down to the location of the desired links.  Since there are 57 pages in the Detailed Outline, this can prove frustrating and time consuming.

Mozilla’s Firefox and Microsoft’s Edge work fine.  They display the pages properly and back out to the same section of the Detailed Outline one is working on.  I lean toward Firefox, but either browser is fine.  Both work well in Apple and Window environments using a laptop or a desk computer.  That is the reason these two browsers are strongly recommended for viewing the fieldnotes.

Unfortunately, reading the notes on mobile phones also tends to be problematic. Readers can easily open up the Detailed Outline in various browsers.  (Surprisingly, they all appear to respond in similar ways.)  Unfortunately, readers will likely find, when trying to navigate links from the Detailed Outline to precise pages, they are pushed to the top of the relevant section (e.g. Social Organization or Legends and Myths).  The only way to get to the desired page in that section is to scroll down to that page.  This means readers must remember the exact page sought.  Moreover, because some sections are rather large – Social Organization has 3,378 pages – readers may spend a decent amount of  time scrolling to reach the desired page.

Clearly, it would be nice if these various problems did not arise or could be waived away with some special program.  Let me stress readers are free to explore various ways for resolving them.  I would encourage the daring to do so. If a reader finds a solution, please email (at  I would very much like to see it.  I will highlight their name (or names) in the acknowledgements with much gratitude.