Announcing the opening of the Terrence Kaufman Collections at AILLA

With great pleasure, we announce the opening of the Terrence Kaufman Collections at AILLA. In 2012 the Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America (AILLA) was awarded the NSF grant BCS-1157867 "Archiving the Terrence Kaufman Collection," and the archive staff began the work of organizing, digitizing, ingesting and curating the vast assemblage of American indigenous language materials in the possession of Terrence Kaufman. Kaufman collected and compiled his extremely large collection of materials over the course of his 50-plus-year career as a linguistic anthropologist who not only conducted his own research and fieldwork, but who also directed two large-scale, multi-year, multi-researcher language documentation projects, the Francisco Marroquín Linguistic Project (PLFM) in Guatemala in the 1970s and the Project for the Documentation of the Languages of MesoAmerica (PDLMA) in Mexico in the 1990s and 2000s. As the final result of this NSF grant, AILLA staff have organized this vast assemblage of materials into 12 separate collections (described below) in the digital repository. The 12 collections include data on 119 distinct languages, as well as approximately 70 dialectal varieties. These languages and varieties represent 26 languages families, 4 isolates, and 1 pidgin, and they come from 22 countries extending from Canada to Argentina. Language families with the highest representation of materials are Mayan (Mexico and Guatemala), Mixe-Zoquean (Mexico), Otomanguean (Mexico), and Uto-Aztecan (Mexico and USA). The collections are the following:

  1. The Educational Materials Collection of Terrence Kaufman (unrestricted) is a collection of syllabuses, course descriptions, recordings of lectures, and activities about indigenous languages; these materials were created and used by Kaufman during his teaching career.
  2. The Epigraphy Collection of Terrence Kaufman and John Justeson (partially restricted) contains materials related to Kaufman and Justeson's work (1993-2004) on the writing systems of ancient Mesoamerica, and in particular the Epi-Olmec script.
  3. The Latin American Languages Collection of Terrence Kaufman (partially restricted) contains materials collected, compiled or created by Kaufman during his career researching the languages of Latin America. Materials in this collection do not include any of the languages represented in his other language (family)-specific collections.
  4. The Mayan Languages Collection of Terrence Kaufman (partially restricted) contains Mayan language materials collected by Kaufman from 1959 to 2004, including data gathered by Kaufman himself (Huasteco, Tzeltal, Mocho', Tzotzil), secondary works incorporating published and unpublished data gathered by others (e.g. papers on the classification of the family), and primary data collected by other researchers and shared with Kaufman.
  5. The Huasteca Nawa Collection of Terrence Kaufman (partially restricted) covers Kaufman's self-funded research on this language (Huasteca Nahuat) and includes data from the Mexican states of San Luis Potosí, Veracruz and Tamaulipas.
  6. The Francisco Marroquín Linguistic Project (PLFM) collection (unrestricted) contains materials from the PLFM, a large-scale, multi-year Mayan language documentation project in Guatemala that Kaufman directed from 1971 to 1978.
  7. The Project for the Documentation of the Languages of MesoAmerica (PDLMA) collection (partially restricted) contains materials from the PDLMA, a large-scale, multi-year language documentation project in Mexico that Kaufman directed during the summers from 1993 to 2010.
  8. The Gulf Nawa Dialect Survey (unrestricted) contains audio-visual recordings and documents resulting from a project to study the lexical and grammatical variation among the varieties of Nahuat spoken in Mexico's Gulf Coast in Tabasco and Veracruz states. This project was supported by the PDLMA and planned and carried out by Roberto Zavala, Una Canger, and Valentin Peralta.
  9. The Soke Dialect Survey (unrestricted) was planned by Roberto Zavala and Kaufman as part of the PDLMA in 2010 and it documented dialects of Zoque spoken in Chiapas and Oaxaca.
  10. The Totonakan Dialect Survey (restricted), 2003-2005 was planned by Carolyn MacKay, Frank Trechsel and Kaufman. The questionnaire was administered in 30 Totonac-speaking towns and one Tepehua-speaking town in Mexico, and it was transcribed as part of the PDLMA in 2004 and 2005. These materials remain restricted while MacKay and Trechsel check the transcriptions and analyze the data.
  11. The Yokot’an (Tabasco Chontal) Dialect Survey (restricted) was planned by Brad Montgomery-Anderson and Kaufman as part of the PDLMA in 2010 and administered in 11 Yokot'an-speaking communities in Tabasco, Mexico. These materials remain restricted while Montogomery-Anderson finishes a forthcoming dictionary of this language.
  12. Archiving the Terrence Kaufman Collection (unrestricted) includes materials that were a direct result of this grant, including the grant proposal, photos, posters, and presentations.

Some of the materials in the collections are restricted (please see information on AILLA's access levels) and will remain so for the foreseeable future; however, we continue to work with the many researchers who participated in the PDLMA to apply the appropriate access levels and lift restrictions wherever appropriate. If you are not able to stream, open or download a file, that means that it is restricted and it cannot be accessed.

These 12 collections represent a treasure-trove of data that can be utilized for countless purposes. If you use any of these materials in your own researcher or for other non-commercial purposes, please follow and respect AILLA's Conditions of Use, including citing the materials and the archive. For guidance on how to cite these materials, please see AILLA's Citation Guidelines. Finally, make sure to get permission from the copyright owner if you want to create any kind of derivative product. Nothing in AILLA may be used for commercial purposes.

We hope that you are able to enjoy and make use of these materials. If you do, please write to us at and let us know!

NSF Acknowledgement: This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number BCS-1157867. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.