Archived documents

Welcome to the online OED archive, which contains reproductions of archival material relating to the OED.

With the exception of On some deficiencies and The Romanes Lecture, the images were captured from rare documents belonging to the official OED archives, which are housed in the Archive Department at Oxford University Press. For further information, please contact

Appeals for readers

Appeal for American readers (1859) – George P. Marsh

‘The Society, having determined to ask the aid of American scholars in this enterprise, the subscriber..adopts this method of bringing the subject to the notice of persons in this country who may be disposed to contribute…’

Appeal for readers (Apr. 1879) – James Murray

‘A thousand readers are wanted, and confidently asked for, to complete the work as far as possible within the next three years, so that the preparation of the Dictionary may proceed upon full and complete materials.’

List of books already read (1879) – James Murray

‘American Readers are specially asked to take up the remaining 18th century books.., and the 19th century American books not in this list…’

Appeal for readers (ed. 2, June 1879) – James Murray

‘For books of any extent, Dr Murray will be glad to supply slips having date, author, title, &c. ready filled in, on receiving a model slip giving all the particulars to be printed.’

Appeal for readers (ed. 3, Jan. 1880) – James Murray

‘Offers to read any other book not yet read will be welcome, especially early treatises on any of the sciences; also offers to register the new words appearing in contemporary magazines, reviews, literary, and scientific journals.’

Papers and essays

On some deficiencies in our English Dictionaries (ed. 2, 1860) – Richard Chenevix Trench

‘A Dictionary is an historical monument, the history of a nation contemplated from one point of view; and the wrong ways into which a language has wandered..may be nearly as instructive as the right ones in which it has travelled.. .’The original papers presented to the Philological Society by Richard Chenevix Trench, in which he calls for a new English dictionary.

The Romanes Lecture (1900) – James Murray

‘..the evolution of English Lexicography has followed with no faltering steps the evolution of English History and the development of English Literature.’