About all: Studies in nineteenth-century American English I
This article argues that American English before the twentieth century has been significantly under-documented, even in works like the Dictionary of American English, because of the inaccessibility of manuscript evidence, specifically from personal correspondence. It outlines a recently initiated project, the Corpus of American Civil War Letters (CACWL), which provides such evidence from the letters and diaries of little-educated soldiers in the conflict and their family members on the home front. in examining two compounds involving all (the pronoun you all 'you (plural)' and the preposition all to 'except for'), the article demonstrates the usefulness of a large body of manuscripts to establish the general currency of the first form in the American South by 1860 and to identify the first known usages of the second form in American english. This initial case study confirms the value of both CACWL and the Southern Plantation Overseers Corpus for both lexicography and for documenting the history of the English language.
Ellis, Michael, and Michael Montgomery. "About all: Studies in nineteenth-century American English I." American speech 86, no. 3 (2011): 340-354.