Murray's filing system (OUP Museum)
Enter Keywords:
Thursday, 31 January 2013
Home arrow Role of quotations arrow OED1 source collection
OED1 source collection
The history of the inception of the OED has been many times re-told, for example by two of the original lexicographers themselves, in the re-issue of the first edition in 1933 (an account usefully available at OED Online), and also by the grand-daughter (K. M. Elisabeth Murray) of the main editor, J. A. H. Murray, whose book Caught in the Web of Words was published in 1977.

Examining the OED
provides a chronological narrative elsewhere on the site, in pages under OED1's compilation, which contain facsimiles of some of the original documents, e.g. appeals to readers, and lists of books to be read. This supports the investigation of quotation collection we supply here.

In brief, in June 1857 the London Philological Society appointed three of their members, Herbert Coleridge, F. J. Furnivall and Richard Chenevix Trench 'as a committee to collect unregistered words in English'. As a result, Trench delivered to the Society in November 1857 two lectures 'On Some Deficiencies in Our English Dictionaries', subsequently published as a single document. These initiated a series of discussions between members of the Society, and they eventually decided to produce a new English dictionary, superior to all its predecessors. The various characteristics of this dictionary, together with the plans to bring it into existence, were announced and described in 1859 in the Proposal for a Publication of a New English Dictionary by the Philological Society (reproduced here).

The pages below look at the ways in which particular sources were identified and mined for quotations for the first edition of the OED.

Initial aims
Initial practice
Early progress

Built with Mambo. Any comments or feedback are welcome.
All responsibility for views and data published on this site is that of the author, Charlotte Brewer.
Copyright © 2005-13 Charlotte Brewer. All rights reserved.