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Trained as a linguist, Audrey R. Duckert was a pioneer in the study of American regional English. Born in the small town of Cottage Grove, Wisconsin, Duckert took up the study of dialect while a student at the University of Wisconsin during the 1940s, and after completing her doctorate in linguistics at Radcliffe College in 1959, she joined the faculty at UMass Amherst, where she remained until her retirement forty years later. Among the highlights of her career, Duckert was a founding member of the Dictionary of American Regional English in 1965 and she became the first UMass woman admitted to Phi Beta Kappa. In addition to her linguistic work, Duckert developed an avid interest in local history and she was involved with a number of local historical organizations, including the Swift River Valley Historical Society in New Salem. On September 6, 2007, Duckert died in Hadley, Mass., at the age of 80.
The Duckert oral history collection consists of a series of 53 audiocassette tapes containing oral history interviews with persons displaced when the Swift River Valley was flooded in 1939 to create the Quabbin Reservoir. The histories include rich recollections of life in the towns of Greenwich, Enfield, Dana, and Prescott, with village life, education, family, and the changes that accompanied the inundation of the region. The original cassette tapes are the possession of the Swift River Valley Historical Society, which has allowed us to digitize the contents.
Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries