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The Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture project

Following the closure of the Institute of Dialect and Folk Life Studies (IDFLS) in 1983, the archives of the IDFLS and the Survey of English Dialects (SED) became somewhat neglected. The bulk of the archives were moved to Special Collections at the Brotherton Library (University of Leeds) during the early 1990s, but remained relatively inaccessible as there was no comprehensive finding aid for their contents. Having recognised the unfulfilled potential of these valuable cultural resources, Dr. Clive Upton of the School of English in collaboration with Dr. Oliver Pickering of the University Library put forward a joint bid to the Arts and Humanities Research Board's Resource Enhancement Scheme for a project which would again make them accessible to researchers and ensure their long term preservation. The archives were collectively renamed the Leeds Archive of Vernacular Culture (LAVC). The bid was successful, and in January 2002 a major grant of over £267,000 was awarded to support a 3 year project to sort and arrange the Archive, create a catalogue of its holdings that would be searchable via the World Wide Web, and digitise the extensive collection of sound recordings.

The project aimed to give access to information about the LAVC, an electronic finding aid, and sample sound recordings via a website. An Archivist (Robin Wiltshire) and Research Assistant (Kathryn Jenner) were employed for the duration of the project to undertake this work, which started in June 2002. A second Research Assistant (Jonnie Robinson) joined the team in December 2002 to work specifically on the incidental material recorded in the SED fieldwork notebooks. This material contains much of social and cultural significance but at the time had yet to be analysed and exploited.