Cordell Collection of Dictionaries

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In December 1969 Warren N. Cordell, an alumnus of Indiana State University and senior executive with A. C. Nielsen Company in Chicago, donated 453 early English dictionaries in both his and his wife Suzanne's name. This donation began Cordell's long involvement in building the Cordell Collection of Dictionaries, with the main emphasis on pre-1901 imprints and a secondary emphasis on dictionaries and word books published thereafter. In slightly more than 10 years, Warren Cordell personally donated 3,232 editions and variants totaling 3,913 volumes. With the 434 editions purchased with NEH funds and an earlier donation of 500 English language dictionaries from the Merriam-Webster Company, the number of editions, or titles, increased to 4,166, or approximately 5,400 volumes.

Today, the collection continues to grow. Its focus has expanded to incorporate languages from all parts of the world including indigenous and regional dialects, as well as works compiled by missionaries. The Cordell Collection of Dictionaries is the largest collection of its kind in the western hemisphere and is recognized internationally.