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The Dakin Collection

A.P.R. Howatt* has provided the following notes on the origins and contents of The Dakin Collection, which, in March 2005, was moved from Edinburgh and incorporated in its entirety into the Warwick ELT Archive. See also the text of his guest lecture for the official launch of the Warwick ELT Archive and his own annotated list of important items in the collection.

* formerly Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics, University of Edinburgh, and author of A History of English Language Teaching (Oxford University Press, 1984; 2nd edition with H.G. Widdowson, 2004)




There were four principal sources for the books [in the Dakin Collection], bearing in mind that few, if any of them were purchased and many were 'scavenged' when their original owners had no further use for them. Others were offered to the Collection, particularly those generously donated by individuals and publishing companies.

The practical effect has been that the Collection is biased towards: (i) ELT and FLT [Foreign Language Teaching] materials in use in the late 1950s; (ii) UK TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] publications between the late 1960s and 1980 and (iii) materials relating to countries in which students had taught before doing the [University of Edinburgh] Applied Linguistics course.


1. Institutions


1.1. 1957-69. The [Edinburgh] School of Applied Linguistics. The founding of the School under the Directorship of Ian Catford in 1957 prompted all the main publishers in the field, especially Longmans, Green, OUP and Macmillan, to donate a large number of textbooks. These are the heart of the Collection. Originally, they were taken into the library of the School, which was [...] essentially private and housed in 14 Buccleuch Place.

At the same time there were donations from applied linguists in the United States (e.g. the school at Monterey run by the Defense Department, the ACLS [American Council of Learned Societies], and so on).

All these materials were seriously dislocated in 1969 when the Department of Applied Linguistics, as it had become in 1964, merged into the Department of Linguistics and space had to be found in the Class Library for the stock owned by the other two formerly separate departments: Phonetics and General Linguistics. The result was that all the 'practical' classroom material was discarded and rescuing it from the looming skips was the first move towards what became the Dakin Collection.

Later on, when the courses in Phonetics were re-vamped, further items ended up on the 'discard' list and were saved for the Collection, particularly when they had been part of the multiple 'class sets' that had been department policy for phonetically transcribed texts in the days before Xeroxing. (Some people think Xeroxing was invented centuries ago, but it did not exist before 1970 and even in the 70s it was restricted to university-controlled machines only.)

1.2. Late 1960s-1980. Publishers' donations. The Department of Applied LInguistics ran a number of Summer Schools in the late 1960s at which the publishers were invited to exhibit their wares. Longmans and OUP offered to leave their books behind in the Department provided they could be put on permanent display for the students (i.e. not locked away in a lecturer's study). This gave the Collection a major boost with up-to-date material and the Collection helped to fill the role of a Resource Centre during the 1970s. Once again publishers, especially the 'big two', were very generous in keeping us supplied with new publications.

This source stopped in 1980 with the arrival of a properly funded Resource Centre at IALS [the Institute for Applied Language Studies] and the Collection became an archive. The possibility of combining them at IALS was entertained but the Institute needed to devote all its space to 'working' purposes and an archive was a luxury.

1.3. 1970-1985. The Applied Linguistics students (not really an 'institution' but they fit in here). This was the period during which applied linguistics was taught as a component of the work of the Department of Linguistics [...]. During this time the Applied Linguistics course followed more or less the pattern shown in the ECAL [Edinburgh Course in Applied Linguistics] series. As ECAL (Vol. 3) shows, this included a lot of practical work associated with syllabuses, teaching materials etc. Students were asked to bring examples of publications they had been using in order to locate their projects in real-life contexts. Very often they left the books behind. If we had the resources we would have acknowledged each of them on each item. I am really sorry this did not happen. However, the Collection never attracted any funding and the students were already very generous with their time in keeping track of what the Collection possessed and in looking after borrowing arrangements.

1.4. 1983. The British Council (ETIC). When ETIC [the English Teaching Information Centre] was closed the Council very kindly invited me to London to look at what was being discarded. Our space was limited by then but most of the Harold Palmer and A.S. Hornby volumes came from that source (particularly the otherwise unobtainable IRET [Institute for Research in English Teaching] material).


2. Individuals


2.1. Julian Dakin. Julian's sudden death in 1971 provided the occasion for establishing a memorial of his work for the department. This initially took the form of the dedication of ECAL (Vol. 3) which was being prepared at the time. It then seemed to a number of colleagues that the textbook collection, which (as explained above) was beginning to take shape by the early 70s, was a fitting long-term memorial, and a small three-figure sum was donated to help pay for incidentals (rubber stamps, stationery items, etc.), but inflation virtually destroyed its practical value later in the decade and the purchase of books was not possible. Julian's own papers and textbook materials were incorporated into the Collection.

2.2. Pit Corder. 1983. When Pit retired [as Professor of Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh] in 1983, he left all his books to the newly-founded Institute [of Applied Language Studies]. It was agreed, however, that a small number of his older books which would probably not be used by IALS students and teachers would be handed on to the Collection. Most of these have been noted in the books.

2.3. Frank E. Bell. 1985. When Frank Bell, the founder of the Bell Schools of Languages, retired, he very kindly donated a number of his books to the Collection and these have all been personally acknowledged.

2.4. Elizabeth ('Betsy') Uldall. Late 1980s. Betsy's links with the department continued for many years after her formal retirement and during this time she passed on to me a large number of very interesting items of different kinds relating to her early years as a student in Daniel Jones's department in London and her work teaching English and phonetics during the Second World War, especially in Egypt with her husband H.J. Uldall. She also had some invaluable materials from the early years of the School of Applied Linguistics (including Ian Catford's background papers to the famous Makerere Conference of 1961, which proved very useful to me in the second edition of my history).

2.5. APRH (ongoing). I always tried to make a point of passing on any gifts from visitors to the department, samples from publishers, etc. as well as using the Collection as the final resting place for items which were no longer of use and so on. Other colleagues were also very generous in their support over the years.


A.P.R. Howatt, March 2005