Like the discipline of linguistics itself, this department grew rapidly during the second half of the twentieth century within the College of Arts and Sciences. While undergraduate courses and graduate programs have been offered since the 1960's, the undergraduate major did not become available until 1972. From its origin, the department has focused its curricular offerings on applied linguistics, formal and computational linguistics, lexicography, and the languages of Africa. The administrative files of department chair Jack Berry, who taught at Northwestern from 1964 until his death in 1980, comprise more than three-fourths of the records in this series. Berry's interest in West African languages and his position as Director of Northwestern's Program of Oriental and African Languages explain the large amount of information which pertains to both the Linguistics Department and to the Program of African Studies. Most of the remaining records are from the administrative files of Judith Levi, another department chair. Levi joined the Northwestern faculty in 1972 and began teaching linguistics courses in 1973. Many of her files pertain to undergraduate advising and the restructuring of graduate level curriculum in 1979.
The records of the Linguistics Department fill ten and one-half boxes, span the period 1963-2004, and are divided into ten different categories.
The first deals strictly with the Conference on African Languages and Literatures, held at Northwestern from April 28 to 30, 1966.
The second concerns other conferences and meetings attended by linguistics faculty as either observers or participants. Files in this category are arranged alphabetically by topical headings.
Section three relates to participation of Linguistics Department faculty with non-Northwestern professional societies and committees. Files are arranged alphabetically by name of organization.
Similarly, section four concerns faculty activity within Northwestern-related committees and is ordered in similar fashion.
The fifth section includes files that most explicitly relate to Northwestern's Program of African Studies, along with records pertaining to linguistic analysis of African languages.
Section six relates to faculty research projects and papers. This section complements the first two sections well because much of the work covered in these files was presented at the conferences attended.
Section seven contains files concerning curriculum development. These files document the development of specific courses as well as departmental concerns relating to both graduate and undergraduate programs.
The eighth section concentrates on financial records. Included are departmental budgetary records as well as material concerning fellowships and scholarships awarded or offered to graduate students.
Section nine contains files relating to students, both graduate and undergraduate, including transcripts, biographical information, and notes concerning academic performance.
The tenth and final section includes general administrative files and contains correspondence with other university departments, routine mailings, and a file relating to the 1970 fire in the linguistics building which forced the department to relocate.
The additions to the Records of the Linguistics Department consist of agendas and minutes from Linguistics Department Meetings dating between 1972 and 2000. Some of the meetings were for the entire department; others were intended for faculty only. Meeting materials are arranged in chronological order, with significant gaps in the 1970s and 1980s, and an occasional gap in the 1990s.