Skip to main content

Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies

The Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies was established at the University of Leeds in 1964 under the directorship of folklorist, Stewart F. Sanderson. Its roots could be found in the Survey of English Dialects (SED) that had been conducted under the direction of Professor Harold Orton between 1951 and 1961. Keen to progress work on the SED as well as recognising the link between dialect and folk life, Orton championed the establishment of an academic centre for research, study and teaching at the University of Leeds. Key to its aims was the undertaking of a Folk Life Survey (1964) that focused on capturing images and information relating to traditions and rural practices similarly under threat from mobility and modernisation. It resulted in a wealth of photographs (with a majority taken in the Yorkshire region by amateur ethnographer and photographer, Werner) as well as the creation of the Folk Life Files containing cuttings on related topics. The Institute went on to establish an undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and research programme that ran until the closure of the Institute in 1983.