Webster, Noah, 1758-1843

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1758-10-16
Death 1843-05-28
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

American lexicographer, textbook author, spelling reformer, word enthusiast, and editor; b. in Hartford, Conn.; attended Yale and taught school in the Hartford area; moved to New Haven, Conn., in 1798.

From the description of Noah Webster papers, 1786-1980. (New Haven Colony Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 319706045

Noah Webster (1758-1843) was an American lexicographer, author and editor. He is best known for his spellers (early spelling textbooks) and his dictionaries, published in 1806 and 1828.

From the guide to the Noah Webster Agreement, 1836, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Webster's Compendious Dictionary of the English Language was published in 1806.

From the description of ALS, 1806 November 22 : New Haven, to Reverend Abiel Holmes, Cambridge, Mass. (Copley Press, J S Copley Library). WorldCat record id: 16943802

Lexicographer, textbook pioneer, English spelling reformer, political writer, editor, and author.

From the description of Noah Webster letter, 1818 Oct. 16. (Litchfield Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 777625558

American lexicographer, lawyer, teacher, author, and editor.

From the description of Papers of Noah Webster [manuscript], 1810 July 17. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647838821

Lexicographer.

From the description of Noah Webster papers. 1787-1826. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70981329

Born in Hartford, Conn., Oct. 16, 17558; grad. from Yale, 1778; taught school; studied law; admit. to the bar, 1781; wrote school books and books on English language; 1818, vocabulary words not found in any dictionary; 1828 publ. first ed. of his Dictionary of the English language; died in New Haven, Conn., May 28, 1843. (from Appleton's Cyclop. of American Biography) (blue index cards)

From the description of Noah Webster papers, undated. (Detroit Public Library). WorldCat record id: 519697948

Lexicographer born in West Hartford, Conn. Graduated from Yale College; admitted to the bar in 1781. Devoted almost twenty years of his life to his An american dictionary of the English Language, published in 1825.

From the description of Noah Webster dictionary entries, [between 1806 and 1825]. (Buffalo History Museum). WorldCat record id: 175290534

American lexicographer and author.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Benjamin SIlliman in London, 1803 May 13. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587957

Born in Ireland, Mathew Carey spent most of his professional career in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he worked as a printer, publisher, and economist.

From the guide to the Mathew Carey letterbooks, 1788-1794, 1788-1794, (American Philosophical Society)

American lexicographer.

From the description of Hurry, hurry, hurry ; a criticism of American educational methods : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589202

From the description of To the young of both sexes : manuscript signed "Franklin", [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589998

From the description of ALS : New Haven, to Messrs. Harvey & Cory, 1830 May 27. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122442810

From the description of Noah Webster letters, 1830 Feb. 3-1833 Nov. 7. (Litchfield Historical Society). WorldCat record id: 621275153

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to C.C. Rafn, Secretary of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries, Copenhagen, 1837 Dec. 13. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587984

From the description of Autograph letters signed (7) : Boston, etc., to Hudson & Goodwin in Hartford, 1786 Jul. 26-1797 Jan. 17. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588810

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : New York, to Jedediah Morse, 1796 Jan. 27-1796 Aug. 31. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588679

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to N. & J. White, 1836 May 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587996

From the description of Notation of sounds and pronunciation : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589805

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Hartford, to Thomas Jefferson, 1791 Jan. 31. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587522

From the description of Errors in the present version of the scriptures : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589179

From the description of Notes on the Revision of the 1842 edition of his dictionary : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589820

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New York, to Mrs. Mary Coxe, Merchant, Baltimore, 1786 Apr. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587966

From the description of Autograph letter signed (retained copy) : New Haven, to Norman White, 1839 Sept. 16. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588250

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Mr. Harris, 1842 Jan. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587977

From the description of Errors in Picket's Grammar : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589175

From the description of On Worcester and Emerson : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589837

From the description of To the party consisting of democratic citizens : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589986

From the description of A brief history of spelling books : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589074

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Mr. Parker , 1843 May 11. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587955

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) : New Haven, to Messrs. Webster & Clark, 1843 May 5 and 8. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588685

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Messrs. Burgess and Crane, 1837 Jun. 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587951

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Hartford, to William Young, bookseller in Philadelpia, 1790 Mar. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587526

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Messrs. Knowlton & Rice, Watertown, N.Y., 1840 Jan. 15. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587981

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to the Rev. William Twining, 1837 Mar. 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587989

From the description of Notes on Knowles' Dictionary : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589817

From the description of On the interpretation of ancient and foreign languages : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589834

From the description of In the year 1782 : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589208

From the description of To the visitors of the public schools in Hartford : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589992

From the description of A letter to a gentleman in Andover : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589294

From the description of Remarks on teaching in schools ; signed "Experience" : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589887

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Messrs. Wiley & Putnam, 1839 Nov. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587999

From the description of Autograph letters signed (18) : New Haven, etc., to his son, William, 1834 Sept. 27-1842 Jul. 6. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588667

From the description of Minutes on Sabbath breaking : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589313

From the description of Notes on discrepancies in spelling of some word by several dictionaries, with notes on Webster's Speller : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589815

From the description of Differences in English and French translations of the Bible : manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589145

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to George F. Cooledge, 1842 Dec. 6. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587962

From the description of Autograph letters signed (3) : Washington, etc., to his wife, 1830 Feb. 12-1842 Jul. 2. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270588746

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Henry L. Ellsworth, 1839 Nov. 26. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587972

From the description of A dictionary of the English language : autograph manuscript, [n.d.]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589142

From the description of Autograph letter signed : New Haven, to Messrs. Websters & Skinner[s], 1810 Mar. 24. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270587992

From the description of Copy of a letter : New York, to Gen. Washington, 1788 Jul. 14. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270589110

American lexicographer. His first dictionary, A compendious dictionary of the English language, was published in 1806. He is best known for the more comprehensive American dictionary of the English language, finished in 1825 and published in 1828.

From the description of American dictionary of the English language : AMs fragment, [ca. 1824]. (Rosenbach Museum & Library). WorldCat record id: 122525011

Noah Webster was an American lexicographer, educator, lawyer, and editor. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, was published in 1806. He is best known for the more comprehensive American Dictionary of the English Language, finished in 1825 and published in 1828.

From the description of Noah Webster miscellaneous papers, 1785-1848 (inclusive), [microform]. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122550256

Noah Webster (1758-1843) was an American lexicographer, educator, lawyer, and editor. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, was published in 1806. He is best known for the more comprehensive American Dictionary of the English Language, finished in 1825 and published in 1828.

From the guide to the Noah Webster papers at New York Public Library, 1764-1843, (American Philosophical Society)

Noah Webster, influential American lexicographer, author and teacher, was born in 1758 in West Hartford, Connecticut. He graduated from Yale College in 1778, studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1781. As a schoolteacher in New York State, he became dissatisfied with children's textbooks, which he felt ignored distinctive elements of American language and culture. In 1783 he published The American Spelling Book, the famed "Blue-backed Speller," a widely used and highly influential textbook that is still in print. Subsequent publications of a grammar (1784) and a reader (1785) formed, with the speller, Webster's three-part Grammatical Institute of the English Language. Webster's advocacy of spelling reform in this period was responsible for most of the differences that exist today between American and British spelling. After marrying Rebecca Greenleaf in 1789, Webster practiced law in Hartford until 1793. In New York City he then founded two newspapers, American Minerva (said to be New York's first daily newspaper) and The Herald, both of which he sold in 1803. He moved to New Haven in 1798, where he was active in local politics. In 1806 Webster published his Compendious Dictionary of the English Language. This work prepared the way for the achievement for which he is most famous, An American Dictionary of the English Language, containing over 70,000 entries and published in two volumes in 1828. (Later, George and Charles Merriam purchased the rights to this dictionary from Webster's estate.)

From 1812 to 1822, Webster and his family lived in Amherst, Massachusetts, where, living largely off the income from his published schoolbooks, he farmed, served in the Massachusetts legislature and continued work on his dictionary. In Amherst the Webster family lived in a house on Main Street, facing the Common. (This house was destroyed by fire in 1838.) As a trustee of Amherst Academy, he was involved in the founding of the Amherst Collegiate Institute, the precursor of Amherst College. In 1822 the family moved back to New Haven. Noah Webster died in New Haven in 1843.

Descendants of Noah Webster: The following is a partial listing of the descendants of Noah Webster who are represented in the Noah Webster Family Papers.

1. Noah Webster (1758-1843) m. Rebecca Greenleaf Daughter: 2. Eliza Steele Webster (1803-1888) m. Henry Jones (Oct 15, 1801-Nov. 7, 1878) Daughter: 3. Emily Ellsworth Jones (1827-1869) m. Daniel Jones Day Son: 4. Robert W. Day (b. 1854, Bridgeport Conn.; lived in Buffalo, N.Y.) Son: 5. Rodney W. Day (b. 1883)

From the guide to the Noah Webster Family Papers, 1810-1917, (Amherst College Archives and Special Collections)

Noah Webster (1758-1843) was an American lexicographer, educator, lawyer, and editor. His first dictionary, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, was published in 1806. He is best known for the more comprehensive American Dictionary of the English Language, finished in 1825 and published in 1828.

Webster must be counted among the founding fathers of the United States. Historians continually note the wide sales of Webster's 'blue-back spellers,' and the monumental achievement of his American Dictionary published in 1828. Webster's Grammatical Institutes of the English Language, of which the speller was the first part and originally published in 1782, followed by the Grammar in 1785 and the Reader in 1786, sold some 15,000,000 copies before his death in 1843. With these and other literary and scientific efforts, Webster stimulated the educational programs of the early American republic. He is also remembered for his participation in the fight for an American copyright law, which he personally promoted in the thirteen original states, resulting in its incorporation in the Federal constitution.

A descendent, by his father of John Webster, Governor of Connecticut in 1656, and by his mother of William Bradford, Governor of Plymouth in 1621, Webster was born in Hartford, Connecticut, Oct. 16, 1758. He entered Yale College in 1774, and, after serving in the militia raised to oppose Burgoyne, graduated in 1778. He then pursued the study of the law in the intervals of school-teaching and, in 1781, was admitted to the bar.

In 1783 he published a series of papers in the Connecticut Courant, signed Honorius, in vindication of the Congressional soldier's pay-bill, and in the same year issued his First Part of the Grammatical Institute of the English Language, or Webster's Spelling Book. The profits from this publication, at less than a cent per copy, helped support Webster during the later stage of his career during which he compiled the American Dictionary. In 1785, he traveled the Southern States, and presented General George Washington with his Sketches of American Policy, an early proposal for a new Constitution of the United States.

Webster resided in Philadelphia and served as superintendent of the Episcopal Academy through November of 1787. From December of that year to November of 1788, he published the American Magazine in New York City. Webster married Rebecca Greenleaf in 1789 and resided in Hartford, CT until 1793, when he returned to New York City to bring out a magazine on behalf of the policies of George Washington's administration. The daily paper entitled the Minerva was begun in November of 1793, and was later accompanied by a semi-weekly paper entitled the Herald. The names were later changed to The Commercial Advertiser and The New York Spectator and continued under other editors.

From 1798 to 1812, Webster lived in New Haven, CT, pursued philological studies, and, in 1807, began the preparation of his American Dictionary of the English Language (first edition, 1828, 2 vol.) the improvement of which was his great endeavor and occupied the rest of his life. From 1812 to 1822, he resided at Amherst, MA, and played an instrumental role in the establishment of Amherst College. In 1822 he returned to New Haven, and, with the exception of a visit to Europe from June 1824 to June 1825, remained there until his death on May 28, 1843, his 85th year.

From the guide to the Noah Webster papers, 1764-1843, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Suffrage
  • Publishers and publishing--United States
  • Federal government
  • Decedents' estates
  • Constitutional amendments--United States
  • Epidemics
  • Conduct of life
  • Publishers and publishing--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
  • English language--Pronunciation
  • Publishing, printing and book arts
  • Weather--Winds
  • English language--Orthography and spelling
  • Spellers
  • Political parties--History
  • English language--History--19th century
  • Historians
  • Printing industry--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
  • English language--Lexicography
  • Printing industry--History--18th century
  • Banks and banking--United States
  • United States--Politics and government - 1783-1809
  • Copyright
  • English language--History
  • Authors, American--19th century
  • English language--Grammar
  • Encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • Genealogy
  • Lexicography
  • English language--Dictionaries
  • English language--Etymology
  • English language--Usage
  • Publishers and Publishing

Occupations:

  • Lexicographers--Connecticut
  • Lexicographers
  • Lexicographers--United States
  • Authors
  • Lawyers
  • Educators
  • Editors
  • Bookseller

Places:

  • United States, 00, US
  • Hartford, CT, US
  • New Haven, CT, US