Max Kade Institute

for German-American Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison

American Languages: Our Nation's Many Voices Online

English Dialects | German Dialects | Links | Searchable Database


Project Description

The Max Kade Institute (MKI), in partnership with the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC), The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), and the University of Wisconsin Libraries, has received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to undertake a three-year project aimed at digitizing, interpreting, and making accessible important fieldwork audio collections capturing a variety of American languages and dialects, both English and German.

What to call it? DARE researcher examines a frying pan. Or is it a skillet? Some call it a spider!
Frying pan? Skillet? Spider? DARE fieldworker Ruth Porter
pondering some of the many words Americans use to describe
this object, 1965. Courtesy University of Wisconsin–Madison Archives.


The American Languages project aims to increase awareness, understanding, and utilization of significant audio collections, and serve as a model for the presentation of other important but technically challenging materials.

Project goals include:

Digitizing 900 hours of cassette, reel-to-reel, 78 rpm disc, and rare SoundScriber recordings, selected from three distinctive sound collections: the MKI North American German Dialect Archive, the DARE fieldwork collection, and the Mills Music Library ethnic music collection.

Creating a database with appropriate metadata describing items within the audio collections. We estimate 3,000 entries to reside in this database.

Developing an accompanying website that links to the database and provides interactive maps and interpretive essays, illustrated by 60 hours of audio clips selected from the 900 hours of digitized material.