The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture

The aim of the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC) project is to unlock the full research potential of the large and varied archive of the University's former Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, now stored in the Brotherton Library’s Special Collections, by creating an innovative electronic resource.

The core of the archive, on the dialect side, is the material generated by the well-known Survey of English Dialects, which gathered its raw materials primarily in the 1950s and 1960s. The folk-life side of the Institute concentrated on collecting data relating to the customs, beliefs, and practices of traditional English communities. As well as a host of paper-based records, which are being sorted and catalogued in detail, there are, in both parts of the overall archive, a very large number of sound recordings, and the digitization of these forms one of the most exciting and challenging parts of the project. The project website, through which the completed multi-level catalogue is available, also provides online access to samples of these digitized recordings.

LAVC meshes with a wide range of studies of social and regional language variation, and of aspects of traditional culture such as folk song, folk tale, and rural crafts.

Principal investigator
Professor Clive Upton; Mr Chris Sheppard
Principal project staff
Dr Clive Stanley Upton; Mr Chris Sheppard
Start date
Saturday, June 1, 2002
Completion date
Sunday, May 1, 2005
Source material
The research resource comprises the holdings of the former Leeds Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies, now held in the Special Collections department of Leeds University Library. These are of two kinds: 1. Dialect materials: material associated with the Survey of English Dialects (SED): original fieldworkers’ recording books; sound recordings (vinyl, reel-to-reel, audio cassettes); correspondence and administrative files; lexical index; promotional and display materials. Also, material of the pre-SED Northumbrian corpus assembled by Harold Orton. 2. Traditional culture materials: sound recordings (reel-to-reel, audio cassettes); slide collection; topic files (offprints, cuttings) and associated detailed subject index (file cards); correspondence and administrative files. The digitised resource is a detailed description of the physical sources.