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Literacy in the 90's
The Role of SIL

This informative booklet, now published here on the Web, was originally printed in the 1990s. As a historical document, it reflects SIL's work in literacy during that decade.

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Sarah C. Gudschinsky

A pioneer in the field of literacy

Sarah C. Gudschinsky Sarah C. Gudschinsky

An admiring university student once complemented Dr. Sarah C. Gudschinsky on her ability to open up the mysteries of linguistics to the novice. Sarah replied, "If I hadn't taught kindergarten first, I could never teach linguistics now."

Who was Sarah Gudschinsky? Rural Michigan school teacher. Linguistics and literacy consultant for colleagues in the Summer Institute of linguistics in Mexico and Brazil. Researcher, innovator, and scholar in the specialized field of introducing literacy to preliterate societies. SIL's first International Coordinator for Literacy. The first woman in SIL to earn a Ph.D. and be elected to the SIL Board of Directors.

From her beginnings with SIL in 1948 until her death, Sarah rubbed shoulders regularly with both the nonliterate and the highly educated. She was equally at home with either. Those who knew Sarah were enriched and challenged by her example. Millions who did not know her nonetheless owe their literacy skills to this educational pioneer.

In recognition of her vision, leadership, and years of service, it is appropriate that this booklet be dedicated to Dr. Gudschinsky—who would have been grateful for what has been accomplished after her example, and equally impatient that more hasn't been done to foment the spread of literacy.

Steve Walter
(International Literacy Coordinator, SIL, March 1990)

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