Friday, December 02, 2011

Alcoa Can't Wait

Thinking through the milieu in which audio recordings were made of participants in The Dictionary of Regional American English (DARE), one can't help coming across the name of Professor Miles Hanley. Prof. Hanley was professor of English at the University of Wisconsin from 1927 until his death in 1954. As such, he was here with Haugen, Joos, Twadell, Lehman, Heffner, and all the who's-who in philology/linguistics in Madison during the first half of the 20th century. From letters, we gather that he coordinated the hiring of one Dr. Frederick G. Cassidy, a newly minted Ph.D. from theUniversity of Michigan in 1939. Prof. Cassidy later was Chief Editor of DARE until passing off the duties to Joan Houston Hall.

In the faculty memorial resolution (=academic obit) that Profs. Hughes, Fowler and Cassidy wrote, it was noted that Prof. Hanley had made "some 1500 phonographic recordings." Joan Hall found two aluminum discs of Prof. Hanley. The one in the picture is of a female speaker from Danbury, Connecticut, dated November 4th, 1932. Copies of the discs can be found at the Library of Congress as the American Dialect Society Collection (a.k.a. The Hanley Collection; The Hanley Discs). Some of his collection is found elsewhere.

Three other little tidbits about Prof. Hanley. First is that John Kenyon received a Carnegie Institute grant in 1940 to work on what would become Kenyon and Knott's 1944 work, A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English. It was to University of Wisconsin that he came, in part, because of Hanley's work cataloging 950,000 rhymes in poems (Milwaukee Journal, Dec. 15, 1940)--and we all know how important those rhymes are to language change.

Second, is Hanley's lexical relation with Ohio State Penitentiary inmate 58248 (Wis. State Journal, May 31, 1936).

The third bit, again of many interesting things about Prof. Hanley to those connected to UW-Madison in particular, is that he lived at the end of his life (and died) in the Fess Hotel (Madison Capital Times, Feb. 4, 1954), which we all know as the downtown Great Dane Brew Pub. Next time you enter the Great Dane, give pause for the recorder of aluminum discs.


Anonymous said...

do you have a way to play those aluminum disks? Or was the recording transferred to another medium at some earlier point? Just curious...

Mr. Verb said...

Our music library has stunning resources if there's anything that hasn't been transferred to other media.

beauty said...
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