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SCOTT, Russell (c 1873-1961)

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0366 RS
Held at: Institute of Education
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Full title: SCOTT, Russell (c 1873-1961)
Date(s): 1845-1964
Level of description: collection
Extent: 3 boxes
Name of creator(s): Scott | Russell | c 1873-1961 | teacher and founder of the Phonetic Alphabet Association
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Not much is known about the early life of Russell Scott (c. 1873-1961) but it is clear from this collection of papers that whilst at Balliol Collge, Oxford, he was a member of the hockey team and founded the Oxford branch of the Fabian Society. It was at a talk held by the Society that Scott first met George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950). In 1907 he became interested in universal languages and started to learn Esperanto. However between 1908 and 1930 he became somewhat sidetracked by Ido, an offshoot of Esperanto. Scott had a varied career as a language teacher and was the first headmaster of the junior department of Bedales School. In 1912 he emigrated to the United States of America, where he was Professor of French at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee. He returned to England in 1920 and also worked as an examiner for the Oxford and London Examination Boards. During the early part of 1950 he became actively interested in the use of Sprechspur (Speech-Tracing) in Germany for teaching young children to read. It was a phonetic alphabet originally devised by Felix von Kunowski (1868-1943) in 1927. In the same year Scott wrote to Shaw, as he was aware that Shaw had made a provision in his will to provide funds to encourage further research into a universal alphabet. Unfortunately however, Shaw died later that year without naming an alphabet of his choice. Scott spent the next seven years trying to persuade the Public Trustee that the Kunowski alphabet was the only possible choice. In 1955, Scott founded the Phonetic Alphabet Association, as a result of the situation concerning Shaw's will, its aim was to introduce Speech-Tracing into British schools. He was the nephew of C.P Scott of the Manchester Guardian and used this relationship extensively in order to get articles and letters concerning the Sprechspur system published. He also wrote, in Esperanto, an International Language for Scouts which was published in 1952. He was an active promoter of international languages and alphabet reform, contributed funds to the World Federation Movement and was a supporter of World Citizenship, and was also a member of the Simplified Spelling Society. Scott died on the 2nd of January 1961, aged 88.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Russell Scott, including correspondence and publications reflecting the wide range of Scott's interests in linguistic unification, Esperanto, Basic English, alphabet reform and simplified spelling, in particular the Kunowski phonetic alphabet 'Sprechspur' or 'Speech-Tracing' and its use in German schools. The papers include newsletters of the Phonetic Alphabet Association, 1955-1961, and associated correspondence; and material relating to George Bernard Shaw's interest in the reformed alphabet movement, including carbons of letters to Shaw, correspondence about his will, press cuttings and publications.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:
English, with some German, Esperanto and Phonetic.

System of arrangement:

The papers had been sorted into categories by the previous custodian and these formed the basis of the order of the collection. Some changes have been made in line with correct professional practice relating to hierarchy. Unless otherwise stated the correspondence is written by Scott, in English and is one page in length.

Conditions governing access:

Open. Apply to Archivist.

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:

Archival Information

Archival history:

It is believed that the papers were retained by either a family member or friend, after Scott's death, and were deposited with the Institute of Education at a later date.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Found in the Institute Library in October 1997. Attached correspondence confines the date of acquisition to 1994-1996.

Allied Materials

Related material:

Other books and pamphlets in and about Esperanto are held by the Institute of Education Library. They were donated by George Barasi in September 1987 and are dated c1920's-1970's. The Institute also holds the records of the Basic English Foundation (DC/BEF).

The Public Record Office holds minutes and papers of government committees relating to Basic English (E 52). Other papers relating to George Bernard Shaw can be found in the Manuscripts Fonds at the British Library. Papers relating to Isaac Pitman can be found at the London School of Economics and Bath University.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:

Rules or conventions:

Date(s) of descriptions:
Created 02/16/2000, modified 12/5/2000

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