The Creole Institute, created in 1968 and headed by Albert Valdman during its 50 years of existence, was the major center in the U.S. for the preparation of teaching and resource materials for Haitian Creole. It produced a range of publications, including materials for teaching the language: Basic Course in Haitian Creole (1970) and Ann Pale Kreyòl (1988); the most authoritative bilingual dictionaries for the language: Haitian Creole-English-French Dictionary (1981), Haitian Creole-English Bilingual Dictionary (2007), and English-Haitian Creole Bilingual Dictionary (2017); as well as the most extensive description of the language: Haitian Creole: Structure, Variation, Status, Origin (2015).
The Institute also branched out into the area of educational linguistics and language planning. Under the auspices of the Office of Bilingual Education and Minority Language Affairs (U.S.D.E.), it organized four summer institutes for the training of bilingual teachers involved in teaching Haitian children in the three major U.S. diaspora centers: New York, Miami, and Boston (1981-84). With USAID funding, it organized in 1979 a conference in Haiti on the use of Creole in primary education (Créole et enseignement primaire en Haïti) prior to the launching of the bilingual educational reform program by the then Haitian Ministry of Education. Publications on other French-based creoles are The Saint-Lucian Creole Basic Course (1968) and the Dictionary of Louisiana Creole (1998). In 2007-2010, with support from the NSF, the Institute conducted the first major sociolinguistic study on Haitian Creole with a focus on the variety spoken in Cape Haitian, in Northern Haiti.
Closely associated with the Department of French and Italian (FRIT), and in collaboration with several universities in Louisiana, the Institute documented Louisiana French with the CD-ROM Discovering Cajun French Through the Spoken Word (2003), and the Dictionary of Louisiana French: As Spoken in Cajun, Creole, and American Indian Communities (2009). These works were produced with contributions from alumnus and Associate Professor of French Kevin Rottet (Ph.D., ’95) as well as the following former FRIT graduate students: Thomas Klingler (Ph.D. ’92), Tamara Lindner (Ph.D. ’08), Barry Ancelet (M.A. ’77), and Deborah Piston-Hatlen (M.A. ’89).
The Creole Institute and FRIT, with support from the NSF, the NEH, the Haut Comité pour la défense et l’expansion de la langue française of France, and several foundations, organized conferences that led to the publication of many collective volumes: Identité culturelle et francophonie dans les Amériques I, II (1976, 1977), Theoretical Issues in Creole Studies (1980), Historicity and Variation in Creole Studies (1981), Issues in International Bilingual Education (1982), Haiti: Today and Tomorrow (1984), French and Creole in Louisiana (1997), and Le français en Amérique du Nord (2005).
The Creole Institute, closely aligned with the department, was founded by Albert Valdman, professor of French Linguistics and Linguistics, in 1968 and was active until May 2019.