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Gail Jefferson papers, circa 1960s-2008
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use
  • Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
  • Preferred Citation
  • UCLA Catalog Record ID
  • Provenance/Source of Acquisition
  • Processing Information
  • Biography/History
  • Scope and Content
  • Organization and Arrangement
  • Conversation Analysis Taxonomy Terms
  • Related Material

  • Title: Gail Jefferson papers
    Collection number: 2319
    Contributing Institution: UCLA Library Special Collections
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 14.2 linear feet (35 document boxes and 1 shoe box)
    Date: circa 1960s-2008
    Abstract: Gail Jefferson (1938-2008) was an internationally renowned scholar in the field of Conversation Analysis, and developed transcription taxonomy standards used in the detailed analysis of conversational exchanges. The collection contains transcripts, talks, reports, articles, drafts, project proposals, news clippings, notes, recordings, and data collections from the major part of Jefferson’s career, which began when she was a student of UCLA Sociologist Harvey Sacks in the 1960s and continued until her death in 2008.
    Language of Materials: Materials are in English.
    Physical Location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Creator: Jefferson, Gail, 1938-2008

    Conditions Governing Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    RESTRICTED MATERIALS: Box 9, Folder 3; Box 10, Folders 1-2, 5, 8-9.
    Transcripts with full patient or doctor names were photocopied and names redacted, redacted photocopies were retained in these folders, and the extra set of photocopies used for the creation of redacted copies was shredded. The originals have been retained within the collection file. The originals will replace the redacted copies in 2117.

    Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

    Copyright to portions of this collection has been assigned to UCLA Library Special Collections. The library can grant permission to publish for materials to which it holds the copyright. All requests for permission to publish or quote must be submitted in writing to the UCLA Library Special Collections Librarian Special Collections. Credit shall be given as follows: ©The Regents of the University of California on behalf of the UCLA Library Special Collections.

    Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

    COLLECTION CONTAINS AUDIOVISUAL MATERIALS: Audiovisual materials in this collection will require assessment and possible digitization for safe access. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.
    COLLECTION CONTAINS DIGITAL MATERIALS: Special equipment or further processing may be required for viewing. All requests to access special collections material must be made in advance using the request button located on this page.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Gail Jefferson Papers (Collection 2319). UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    UCLA Catalog Record ID

    UCLA Catalog Record ID: 8092531 

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Albert Stuulen, 2014.

    Processing Information

    When Gail Jefferson died in February 2008, her husband and executor, Albert Stuulen, arranged her papers into 33 boxes and transferred this archive to be catalogued at the University of York, by Clare Jackson. This collection was moved to UCLA in 2013 and reprocessed by Fiona Eustace and Jade Finlinson, with supervision from Kelly Besser, 2017.
    Terms useful for understanding the content of Jefferson's files are defined within the collection level Language of Materials note and again within the series-level scope and content notes.
    The detailed catalogue prepared by Jackson at York is included as an attached PDF for research purposes, but locations listed there vary from the final arrangement. An updated inventory of the Audiovisual Materials series, prepared by UCLA Library Special Collections, is also attached as a PDF.


    Gail Jefferson (1938-2008), a leading scholar of Conversation Analysis, developed transcription standards for use in this field. Jefferson earned her B.A. in Dance at UCLA in 1965 and her Ph.D. in Social Sciences at UC Irvine in 1972. Inspired by Harold Garfinkel's Ethnomethodology, Conversation Analysis was developed by UCLA Sociologist Harvey Sacks along with Jefferson and UCLA Sociology Professor Emanuel Schegloff as co-founders.
    Conversation Analysis is an approach to the study of social interaction, embracing both verbal and non-verbal conduct of mundane interactions. Jefferson's work specifically examines overlapping exchanges, laughter, and other interactional phenomena in daily conversation.
    In addition to transcribing and editing two published volumes of lectures by UCLA Professor Harvey Sacks, Jefferson published articles and performed transcription for other scholars in the field. She taught Conversation Analysis methods at a summer school in Denmark in the early 2000s, and lived in the Netherlands with her husband Albert Stuulen until her death in 2008.
    Talking About Troubles in Conversation, a compilation of Jefferson’s essays edited by Paul Drew, John Heritage, Gene Lerner, and Anita Pomerantz, was published by Oxford University Press in 2015.

    Scope and Content

    The material covers the major part of Gail Jefferson’s career as a scholar in Conversation Analysis, including transcripts of conversations used for research and workshops, data collections, reports, talks, drafts and completed articles, project proposals, and news clippings. This collection contains transcriptions of UCLA Professor Harvey Sacks' lectures from the 1960s used for Jefferson’s edited volumes of his published work as well as Jefferson's audio cassette and VHS recordings of interviews and conversations, raw material for transcription and analysis.

    Organization and Arrangement

    This collection has been arranged in the following series based on preservation of the existing order and the imposition of an intellectual order:
    • 1. Offers, Compliments, and Corrections
    • 2. Complete Articles and Corresponding Notes
    • 3. Collections, Notes, and Articles
    • 4. Workshop Materials and Transcripts
    • 5. Harvey Sacks' Lectures and Related Materials
    • 6. Transcripts, Talks, and Collections
    • 7. Project Proposals and Reports
    • 8. "At first I thought" Materials
    • 9. Latency and Poetics Materials
    • 10. Poetics Paper and Standard Max Materials
    • 11. Audiovisual Materials

    Conversation Analysis Taxonomy Terms

    The terms used to organize series titles are part of a taxonomy developed by Gail Jefferson and Harvey Sacks, and are highly specific to concepts examined in the field of Conversation Analysis. Terms are listed in the order in which they appear in each series, and are also found within the series scope and content notes.
    • Offers: conversations centered around someone giving/offering information, working through some sort of informational dilemma.
    • Compliments: conversations commenting on the likeable nature of things/people.
    • Non corrections: corrections that did not happen in the conversation, Jefferson interpreting potential “corrections” or secondary meanings of what is said, interpreting content. Conversations where people choose not to correct each other, interprets this choice. Examines verbal and mental corrections that could have been made in conversation.
    • Corrections: information is confirmed in conversation.
    • Overlap: a recipient starts to talk at a possible end of a turn in progress while the current speaker, instead of stopping there, goes on with more talk.
    • Question No: questions that end either directly in no, indirect responses suggesting no.
    • Troubles-telling: type of confessional conversation when a “trouble” or emotional problem is revealed.
    • Conversation restart: someone starts a new topic to move out of talk about a trouble.
    • Insertions: different instances including insertions of word particles, word repair, comment on statement, background information, and modifiers.
    • Topic shift: broadly understood as to shift to new, related, closing, or prior topics. Shifts differ in speaker and emotional severity.
    • Topic attrition-hold: the topic is not abandoned, but no additional life is contributed to the topic and as a result the topic withers.
    • Heroic minimizing: invoking the ordinary on the occurrence of the extraordinary. Acting humble/modest in response to a heroic deed.
    • Mundane Boundarying: mundane talk after a special/problematic event.
    • I thought: 'At first I thought' A normalizing device for extraordinary events. In Gene H. Lerner (Ed.), Conversation Analysis: Studies from the First Generation (pp.131-167). Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 2004.
    • Call closings: final or closing talk at the end of a phone call between two people.
    • Going along with: when people in conversation essentially go along with what is said.
    • Adjacency pairs: (broadly) some natural two-utterance sequences in which their parts properly go adjacently. A large number of them are known names, and given the names, the parts are relatively ordered and discriminatively related (from lecture 1 folder 1).
    • ‘uh’: when someone initially responds with 'uh' before their actual answer to a question in conversation.
    • Sequencing in conversation: aims to lay out some of the ways that the discoverable aspects of single utterances turn out to be handleable by reference to sequencing considerations. Examines how sequencing considerations turn out to be implicative of what happens in a given utterance (Sacks).
    • Latency: delay/silence before a transfer of information.
    • Stolen Jokes: joke-teller displays recipient-ship of the steal or joke-teller dis-attends the steal (Jefferson).
    • Pursuit tags: relates to (1981) “The Abominable 'ne?' An Exploration of Post-Response Pursuit of Response.” In P. Shroder (Hrsg.), Sprache der gegenwaart (pp.53-88). Dusseldorf.
    • Innocuous and Problematic Standard Max: silences in talk.

    Related Material

    Harold Garfinkel Papers (Collection 1273).  Available at UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.
    Harvey Sacks Papers (Collection 1678).  Available at UCLA Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.