University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Raven I. McDavid Papers 1951-1976

© 2007 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


McDavid, Raven I. Papers




. 5 linear ft. (1 box)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Raven I. McDavid, educator and linguist. The Raven I. McDavid Papers consist of typescripts and offprints by McDavid. Also included in this collection is a poster announcing lectures on the American language by James R. Hulbert, Mitford M. Mathews, and McDavid.

Information on Use


No restrictions.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: McDavid, Raven I. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Biographical Note

Raven Ioor McDavid, Jr. was born on October 16, 1911 in Greenville, South Carolina to Raven Ioor and Marie Louise (Henderson) McDavid. In 1929 McDavid was a summer student at the Virginia Military Academy. He received a B.A. from Furman University in Greenville in 1931, and went on to Duke University for graduate school (M.A. 1933, Ph.D 1935).

From 1935 to 1938 McDavid was an English Instructor at the Citadel, a military academy in Charleston, South Carolina. From there he went on to teach at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Michigan. During World War II McDavid served as an advanced linguist in the language section of the United States Army. In 1952 McDavid joined the faculty of Western Reserve University in Ohio, where he remained until 1957 when he joined the University of Chicago faculty as an associate professor of English. In 1964 he was given the position of professor of English and Linguistics.

McDavid is perhaps best known for his work as the editor of the 1963 edition of H.L. Mencken's American Language. His work also includes The Structure of American English (1958), The Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States (1961), Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States (1979), and The Mirth of a Nation: America's Great Dialect Humor (with Walter Blair, 1983).

McDavid was a Rosenwald Fellow, a Fullbright Fellow, a senior fellow for the National Endowment for the Humanities, and a fellow of the American Anthropological Association. His professional memberships included the Modern Language Association, the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society, the Midwest Folklore Society, the Canadian Linguistic Association, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

McDavid married Elizabeth Lee Harris on March 7, 1942. The couple, who divorced in 1945, had one daughter, Bettie McClain. On June 7, 1950 he married Virginia Ann Glenn. The couple had four children—Glenn Truxtun, Raven Ioor III, Thomas Ingelsby, and Ann Hamilton.

Scope Note

Raven I. McDavid, educator and linguist. The Raven I. McDavid Papers consist of typescripts and offprints by McDavid. Also included in this collection is a poster announcing lectures on the American language by James R. Hulbert, Mitford M. Mathews, and McDavid.

Related Resources

Browse finding aids by topic.

Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1


  • "Of Peanuts and Politicians"
  • "The Humanist in the Woodwork"
  • "Dialectology and the Teaching of Reading," 1963
  • "Language Learning and Dialects"
  • Comparison of passages in Malmstrom and Ashley, Dialects USA, with chapter "American English Dialects" by McDavid in The Structure of American English by W. Nelson Francis
  • "Linguistic Atlas of the North-Central States," Manuscripts on Cultural Anthropology series, announcement
  • Review by H. Rex Wilson of The American Language by H. L. Mencken, edited by McDavid
Box 1   Folder 2

"Communication Barriers to the Culturally Deprived," Cooperative Research Project 2107, 1966 (with William M. Austin)

Box 1   Folder 3

Poster announcing lectures on "The American Language" by James R. Hulbert, Mitford M. Mathews, and McDavid, 1963

Box 1   Folder 4

Offprints of articles, 1951-1969

  • The Relationship of the Speech of American Negroes to the Speech of White, McDavid and Virginia Glenn McDavid, February 1951
  • Linguistics at Western Reserve University, 1957
  • Review, A concise Dictionary of the American Language, January-March 1958
  • Linguistic Geography and the Study of Folklore, Autumn 1958
  • Hans Kurath, 1960
  • Current Anthropology, 1960
  • Structural Linguistics and Linguistic Geography, 1961
  • Dialectology and the Classroom Teacher, 1962
  • The Dialectology of an Urban Society, 1964
  • American English, February 1964
  • The Levys of New Orleans: An Old Myth and a New Problem, June 1964
  • Dialectology and the Teaching of Reading, December 1964
  • Review, Milton's Grammar, 1965
  • American Social Dialects: Two articles by Raven I. McDavid, Jr., 1965
  • Sense and Nonsense About American Dialects, May 1966
  • The Elusive Slahvish, 1967
  • Mencken's Onomastics, 1967
  • Historical, Regional, and Social Variation, 1967
  • Needed Research in Southern Dialects, 1967
  • Review, A Dictionary of Canadianisms, 1967
  • Studies in Language, Literature, and Culture of the Middle Ages and Later, 1969
Box 1   Folder 5

Offprints of articles, 1969-1976

  • A Theory of Dialect, November 22, 1969
  • The Sociology of Language, 1970
  • Changing Patterns of Southern Dialects, 1970
  • Planning the Grid, 1973
  • Reviews, The Taste of Yiddish and Slang and Its Analogues, March 1973
  • Cracker and Hoosier, with Virginia McDavid, September 1973
  • Poor Whites and Rustics, with Sarah Ann Witham, 1974
  • Notes on the Pronunciation of Ohio, September 1975
  • The Urbanization of American English, 1975
  • Review, A Dictionary of Modern American and British English on a Contrastive Basis, 1976
  • Review, Man versus Society, by Donald J. Greene, n.d.
  • Design, Data-Gathering, and Interpretation (2 copies), n.d.
  • The Folk Vocabulary of Eastern Kentucky, n.d.
  • The Dialects of Negro Americans, with Lawrence M. Davis, n.d.
Box 1   Folder 6

Offprints of articles, n.d.

  • Two Studies of Dialects of English, n.d.
  • Review, American English: A Bibliography, n.d.
  • Dialectology and the Integration of the Schools, n.d.
  • Review, Historical Linguistics and Exercises to Accompany Historical Linguistics, n.d.
  • Review, The Paradise Within, n.d.
  • New Directions in American Dialectology (3 copies), n.d.