AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Basic English Foundation

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0366 BEF
Held at: Institute of Education
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Basic English Foundation
Date(s): 1933-1971
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 10 boxes, 1 loose volume
Name of creator(s): Basic English Foundation
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Basic English was developed by Charles Kay Ogden (1889 - 1957) as an 'international language' and as a system for teaching English to speakers of other languages using a simplified vocabulary of 850 words.
In 1927 Ogden established the Orthological Institute followed by the publication, in quick succession, of 'Basic English' (1930), 'The Basic Vocabulary' (1930), 'Debabelization' (1931) and 'The Basic Words' (1932). A period of rapid expansion saw the establishment of 30 agencies connected with Basic English across the world and by 1939 there were around 200 printed works in, or about, Basic English.
In 1943 Winston Churchill established a cabinet committee looking at Basic English. Following the committee's report, Churchill made a statement to the House of Commons on 9 March 1944. The statement outlined a strategy to develop Basic English as an 'auxiliary international and administrative language'. The statement was later published as White Paper CMD. 6511 titled 'The Atlantic Charter, and the Prime Minister's Statement on Basic English of March 9, 1944; in their original form, and in Basic English, for purposes of Comparison' (DC/BEF/5/10).
Ogden assigned his copyright for Basic English works to the Crown in June 1946. In 1947, with a grant from the Ministry of Education, the Basic English Foundation was established. The Basic English Foundation was constituted as a charitable trust 'to develop the study and teaching of the system and to promote a knowledge of Basic English, and thereby of the English Language, throughout the world'. The Basic English Foundation would remain closely associated with the Orthological Institute through which a certain amount of teacher training in Basic English was conducted.
Following the Second World War those concerned with Basic English were not able to reassemble the international network of teaching agencies. However, the promotion of Basic English as a means of teaching English continued.
The Basic English Foundation's main activity was translating and publishing books in Basic English and, after a controversial history, it finally wound up its activities in the 1960s.


Scope and content/abstract:

Records of the Basic English Foundation, including annual reports, minutes, policy, subject and correspondence files, 1948-1965; correspondence with Charles Kay Ogden and the Orthological Institute, 1947-1953; files of Joseph Lauwerys (1902-1981), who was a Trustee of the Foundation from 1951.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Open subject to signature of Reader Application Form.

Conditions governing reproduction:

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Librarian or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Finding aids:

On-line catalogue available.

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

Arrived in the Archives as part of the Lauwerys Collection (DC/JL) in 1987.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Institute also holds the personal papers of Joseph Lauwerys (1902-1981), who was a Trustee of the Foundation, from 1951 (DC/JL).

The Public Record Office holds minutes and papers of government committees relating to Basic English (ED 52); University College London has papers of Charles Kay Ogden relating to the Basic English Foundation, 1910-1987 (A 547).

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 10/8/1999, modified 12/4/2000

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Personal Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"