Papers of Professor Eugenie Jane Andrina Henderson

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the language, phonetics and linguistics material collected by Eugenie Henderson; conference papers and lecture notes from major linguistic conferences that she attended; socio-linguistic material and papers from the societies and organisations to which she belonged.

Administrative / Biographical History

Eugenie Jane Andrina Henderson was born on 2 October 1914. After leaving school she went to University College, London to read English, where she later studied phonetics under Daniel Jones. Although she specialised in phonetics and phonology, she also made an invaluable contribution to the field of general linguistics, and advanced the study of many South East Asian languages, notably Karen, Khasi, Thai and Chin. She married George Meier in 1941.

Her career at the School of Oriental and African Studies started in 1944, following a short spell working for the Ministry of Economic Welfare during the Second World War. She taught under Professor Firth, initially teaching Japanese to armed services personnel. She researched the subject of prosodic phonology, a theory advocated by Firth and published several significant works in this field. She stayed on at SOAS after the end of the War, lecturing in the languages of South East Asia, and became Head of Department in 1960. During the six years of her appointment, she furthered the development of the department by introducing the study options of combining language courses with social anthropology or history. In 1966 she was appointed Head of the Department of Phonetics and Linguistics, during which time she undertook much of her work on prosodic phonology. She became an honorary fellow of the School in 1985 and a Fellow of the British Academy in the following year.

Eugenie Henderson's published works included Tiddim Chin: a descriptive analysis of two texts (1965), The Domain of Phonetics (1965) and The Indispensable Foundation: a Selection from the Writings of Henry Sweet (1971). Her magnum opus was the compilation of material for a dictionary of Karen, although she died on 27 July 1989 before the work was published. In addition to having many of her own works published, Eugenie Henderson assisted in the publication of the works of other scholars like Gordon Luce, who wrote Pre-Pagan Burma .


As far as possible, papers have been classified according to Dr. Henderson's own system. They are arranged into 7 categories including: language material (arranged alphabetically under individual language names or the language group name); phonetics papers (arranged alphabetically by author, with Henderson's papers at the beginning); linguistics material (arranged alphabetically by author, with Henderson's papers at the beginning and specific linguistic topics at the end); conference papers/lecture notes (arranged in chronological order); socio-linguistic material (arranged according to topic); societies/organisations (arranged alphabetically by society/organisation); miscellaneous.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1989.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Geographical Names