Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Dictionary Day, 2016

"Dictionary Day" honors lexicographer Noah Webster, born October 16, 1758, and celebrated for his pioneering work in both documenting and defining the emergent American language.

Webster is most often associated with Connecticut--New Haven, because he studied at Yale and spent his later years in that city (though his 1823 house was moved to Henry Ford's Greenfield Village in Michigan, in order to prevent its impending demolition)--and West Hartford, where his birthplace is today a museum and educational center dedicated to his legacy. In addition, however, he spent a crucial phase of his life (1812-22) in Amherst where he was actively involved in civic affairs (including the founding of Amherst Academy and Amherst College) as well as work on his dictionary.

Webster owned a large farm in what is now the center of town.

1920s map of Webster's holdings (Jones Library Special Collections) [placeholder]
His house no longer survives, but was located where the late nineteenth-century "Lincoln Block" now stands, across from Town Hall.

From the vaults:

• 2008: New England Celebrates Noah Webster 250th

• 2010: Well, where are you? Celebrating Noah Webster's Birthday and Searching for Remains of His Property

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