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Richard Doty

Last modified: Wednesday, April 17, 2002

IU receives national grants for Louisiana French project, online film literature index

Indiana University has received two grants totaling more than $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities for projects involving Louisiana French and an online film literature index.

Albert Valdman, the Rudy Professor of French & Italian and of Linguistics at IU, is the project director for a $284,456 award for the Louisiana project. Kristine Brancolini, director of the IU digital library program, is the project director for a $239,343 award for the literature index.

The two grants are part of nearly $31 million in funding recently announced by NEH. The grants support scholarly research and provide funds for humanities programs at colleges, research centers, museums and other nonprofit institutions.

Valdman said a major objective for his project is preparing a historical dictionary of Louisiana French, which includes the language spoken in Cajun communities, the Colonial French brought to America with the first explorers from France in the late 1600s, and the Louisiana Creole that is spoken primarily in African American communities. The IU professor said the project "will contribute significantly to the field of French studies and will document an important component of Louisianian culture: the endangered French variety spoken in Louisiana."

Valdman said IU is the lead research institution on the project through the Creole Institute that he directs. Researchers on Louisiana French-related language and culture from Louisiana State University, Tulane University, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and the University of Alabama also are involved. Included in this group are IU alumni Barry Jean Ancelet at UL Lafayette, Tom Klingler at Tulane and Kevin Rottet at UW Whitewater.

"Because Louisiana French is fast-eroding," Valdman said, "the project will contribute to a better understanding of language loss and help revitalize this indigenous French-related language of Louisiana."

Brancolini said the two-year award will help fund the conversion of the paper-based Film Literature Index to an online version for Web publishing. The Film and Television Documentation Center at the State University of New York at Albany has published the Index since 1973 as a listing of hundreds of periodicals from around the world.

"Our project will provide index information, but not full-text content, in a highly searchable electronic form of some 564,000 article entries. As part of the IU Digital Library Program, it will be a lasting, invaluable reference tool for scholars, students, movie buffs and the general public," Brancolini explained.

The IU Digital Library program is a university-wide collaboration of the IU Libraries, the Office of the Vice President for Information Technology, the School of Library and Information Science, and the School of Informatics. The Digital Library Program's Web site is