DARE Funding: A Blend of Public and Private Support

For nearly sixty years, the Dictionary of American Regional English has been generously supported by federal agencies, private foundations, and thousands of individuals who love language. As we look to the future and what’s next for DARE, we wish to recognize all who have made it possible so far: Thank you kindly, appreciate it, arigato, danke schoen, gracias, mahalo, merci, much obliged, or as one Kansan put it, “Thanks very large!”

Significant public funding throughout DARE’s history has been provided by:

U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare1 National Endowment for the Humanities2 National Science Foundation3 University of Wisconsin–Madison4

Additional private funding has been generously given from these foundations:

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Franklin Philanthropic Foundation Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation

Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

John C. Sime Trust

Brittingham Fund, Inc. Carnegie Corporation of New York Salus Mundi Foundation Rockefeller Foundation Additional Foundations5
Connemara Fund Evjue Foundation, Inc. Pleasant Rowland Foundation Vital Projects, Inc.

Individuals have contributed at every level to keep the project going6:

Bascom Hill Contributors ($25,000 and above) Lake Mendota Associates ($10,000–$24,999) Family Members ($1,000–$9,999) Circle of Friends ($500–$999) Supporters
(Up to $499)


Without all this remarkable support, DARE would not have been able to:

Publish an award-winning reference work.The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) consists of six print volumes with more than 60,000 entries and senses, 4,500 maps, a bibliography with nearly 13,000 sources, an Index of Labels by Region, Usage, and Etymology, and a Data Summary of the survey results from the original fieldwork (1965–70). In 2013, DARE received the Dartmouth Medal from the American Library Association’s Reference Users Society of America (RUSA) for the creation of a reference work of outstanding quality and significance.

“For scholars of American English, this volume and the series it completes are a hoard of riches. . . . It is a repository of who we have been as a people, and who we are.”

—John E. McIntyre, Baltimore Sun

Transition to Digital DARE. Published by Harvard University Press (HUP), daredictionary.com (Digital DARE) is a dynamic and interactive digital dictionary that includes all the entries from A–Zydeco along with advanced searching capabilities, interactive mapping, survey data, and updates for subscribers.  In addition, much of the content of the supplemental Volume VI: Contrastive Maps, Index to Entry Labels, Questionnaire, and Fieldwork Data is freely available.

“Recently in the language world, something happened that might be described as the Super Bowl, the Olympics, the Fourth of July, New Year’s, three scoops of ice cream, and a new kitten all rolled into one. . . .  I’m talking about the fact that the magnificent six volume Dictionary of American Regional English is now available online.”

—Martha Barnette, A Way with Words

Make the 1965–70 DARE Survey interviews public. In addition to conducting the DARE interviews in 1,002 communities across America in all fifty states and D.C., the Fieldworkers made audio recordings of many of the DARE Informants and other auxiliary speakers. As of 2016, student interns, graduate assistants, and staff completed a four-year undertaking to remove private and sensitive information from the recordings so that they can be made publicly available at the UW–Madison Digital Collections Center. This collection not only features the linguistic variety of American English but contains an abundance of oral history topics ranging from the making of moonshine to the moon landing. The collection contains more than 1,800 interviews plus more than 1,400 extracted clips of different speakers reading “The Story of Arthur the Rat.” The Arthur clips and interview metadata have been available since 2003, and the full interviews are scheduled to go live in 2017.

“The tapes themselves are a treasure trove that must be preserved and kept available for all who can make use of them. With many informants already in their late seventies and some older, the record they provided in the late 60’s of regional dialect going back into the last century, is priceless. As a dialect coach, director, and actor working in both theater and film, I know of no resource that can come close to providing me so rich and systematic a survey of American dialects.”

—Paul Meier, University of Kansas, Department of Theatre and Film

Conduct a new language survey in Wisconsin. DARE partnered with the UW Survey Center to test the feasibility of a new nationwide language survey—this time, online.  The 2013–14 Online Survey of Wisconsin English (OSWE) was taken by more than 1,700 participants supplying just under 400,000 responses, with forty-three participants also providing telephone interviews. This resulted in a wealth of data published as: a data summary, new maps, quotations in new and revised entries, and audio recordings with transcriptions, all freely available on our project website. We hope to continue mining this exceptional data source and sharing what we find.

“Thank you for allowing me to participate. I grew up with my Dad poking fun at my Mom for speaking ‘Alverno’ English, while my Mom poked fun at my Dad for speaking ‘Sheboygan’ English. Either way, I’m part of the third generation of families who have lived exclusively in Manitowoc and Sheboygan counties.”

—Survey Participant, 2013–14 Online Survey of Wisconsin English

Sustain relationships. Throughout the years, DARE’s editors and staff have maintained connections with linguists, other scholars and researchers, the media, professionals in many fields, and the general public through:

  • The publication of the DARE Newsletter three times a year
  • Correspondence in response to inquiries about words, usage, history, etc.
  • Public presentations to community groups, civic organizations, book clubs, and university classes
  • A social media presence, including a Twitter feed considered by Time magazine as one of “The 140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2014”
  • Participation in conferences of the Dictionary Society of North America (DSNA), the American Dialect Society (ADS), the International Linguistic Association (ILA), and many other associations
  • Maintenance of a project website that, in 2016 averaged more than 50,000 visitors per month from more than 200 countries around the world and continues to grow in popularity.  (January 2017 reported 80,000 visitors.)

Publish Quarterly Updates. As of January 2017, DARE has posted seven Quarterly Updates on our project website and, if funded, aims to continue. The updates incorporate a backlog of more than thirty years of collected citations along with new research to produce new and substantially revised entries and senses. These are available for free, and we are currently working with HUP to update them on a regular basis at Digital DARE for subscribers.

“The six-volume dictionary has a continuing updated online presence now, thanks to support from friends who saw the benefit of such updating in the print version—and thanks to some additional grants and very strict budgeting. Its postprint era is just beginning, but a sampling of new and updated entries is now available at the dictionary website.”

—Allan Metcalf, Chronicle of Higher Education

Keep documenting the varieties and changes in American English. It is clear that our language continues to change and deserves to be recorded. It is not clear if DARE will be able to continue documenting these changes. We still need your support to publish Quarterly Updates and to continue sharing our knowledge, research, and educational materials with all who wish to learn. Substantial contributions would allow DARE to flourish into the future and potentially pursue additional goals such as a mobile app, a regional or nationwide survey, or far more substantial dictionary updates. But that depends on you. We hope you join us for the next chapter in:

“The most exciting linguistic project going on in the United States.”

—the late William Safire, New York Times

Learn More
A complete list of donors, volunteers, and staff who contributed to DARE up through the publication of Volume V: Sl-Z is available at Digital DARE.DARE Newsletters contain detailed donor information published annually.DARE’s Board of Visitors is made up of people who share a belief in the value of the project and a strong desire to see it continue. They meet twice a year at locations around the country to discuss development ideas and the editorial progress being made on the Dictionary.Contact DAREPurchase DARE Volumes I-VI, subscribe to Digital DARE, or ask your local library or educational institution to do so.


1. Much of the original fieldwork done in the 1960s was funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of Education within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW).

2. The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent those of the agency. Without the support of NEH over fifty years, DARE would not be a reality. We are grateful for the funding provided in these awards: RE-10066-71, RO-11825-72, RO-10016-74, RT-*0855-76, RT-*0855-76-79, RT-*2018-80, RT-20460-84, RT-20830-89, RT-21281-91, PS-20525-92, RT-21478-93, RT-21651-95, PA-23057-97, PA-23394-99, PA-23820-01, PA-50186-03, PA-51195-05, PM-50009-07, PW-50315-09, PW-50551-10, PW51472-13. Learn more at NEH.

3. DARE has been supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) over a period of more than thirty years through the following awards: BCS 7924032, 8318171, 8908905, 9408728, 9729068, 0131882, 0236423, 0446648, 0640484, 0841949, 1051867. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in DARE or this website are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the NSF. Learn more at NSF.

4. The University of Wisconsin–Madison has been crucial to the ongoing success of DARE. In addition to giving us a home in the Department of English, it has provided support through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the Graduate School, the College of Letters and Science, the Office of the Provost, the Office of the Chancellor, the Brittingham Fund, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., the Anonymous Fund, and the Department of English.

5. In addition, DARE has been supported by the following foundations, trusts, and organizations: Alexander & Alexander, American Dialect Society, Andrews McMeel Universal Foundation, Butterfly Foundation, James J. Colt Foundation, Charles A. Dana Foundation, Dawson Family Fund, Furthermore (a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund), BF Goodrich Co., Gordon Charitable Fund, Gramercy Foundation, David Greenewalt Charitable Trust, Hidden Pond Foundation, Hillsdale Fund, Inc., Houghton Mifflin Co., Dorothy Houston Revocable Trust, Margaret Banta Humleker Foundation, IBM, Louise H. and David S. Ingalls Foundation, S.C. Johnson Foundation, Samuel M. Levy Family Foundation, and Marathon Oil Co.

6. Detailed listings of individual contributions are published annually in DARE Newsletters.