Standing on the shoulders of giants: Phonetics Recording Archive

The University of Edinburgh’s proud heritage of academic and research achievements is underpinned by the calibre of the outstanding staff that have worked and taught within its walls.

One such individual of note was the late Elizabeth Theodora Uldall, a pioneering phonetician who spent over 30 years at the University.  Elizabeth, or as she was more commonly known as, Betsy, came to work at the University in 1949, after postings for the British Council both during and after the Second World War.  Indeed these postings and her subsequent academic work meant that by the time she came to Edinburgh, she had already worked on five continents.

The primary interest of her research was phonetics and at her time in Edinburgh made many valuable contributions to this field, both through her research and teaching, and a touching obituary was published in the Scotsman, when she sadly passed away in 2004.

The Data Library are very happy to announce that recently, with the co-operation from the Linguistics and English Language department, we were able to gather for preservation and sharing, some of the recently digitised research outputs from Betsy Uldall, David Abercrombie, and other distinguished researchers’ work into The University of Edinburgh Phonetics Recording Archive, mid-late 1900s collection on DataShare.

This collection contains five items, containing phonetic and linguistic research including the research outputs and recordings from Betsy Uldall:

Although DataShare was not available for University staff at the time of Betsy Uldall’s retirement in 1983, it would seem that right up until the end, she remained conscious of her responsibilities and the value of her work to other researchers:

“Betsy Uldall, spoke to me before she died asking for this archive to be preserved, and with your help it will be preserved and accessible to people who can use it. – Many many thanks”

We are of course very happy to have played a part in meeting her request, and that her research data is now available to all who wish to study and build upon it.

David Girdwood
EDINA & Data Library

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