Webster was more than a compiler of words. He also was a fervent number-cruncher who authored the world’s first scientific survey. Here’s a recent story that I wrote for The Daily:
By Joshua C. Kendall on May 8, 2011
By Joshua C. Kendall on March 17, 2011
WC Minor, the “madman” of Simon Winchester’s compelling narrative about the making of the OED, was no amateur lexciographer, as historians have long assumed. Three days before the start of the Civil War, he signed a contact to work on a major revision of Webster’s American Dictionary. And as I show, based on my archival research at Yale’s Beinecke Library, the future star of the OED was an utter failure as an American lexicographer.
By Joshua C. Kendall on March 14, 2011
In a recent story for the Johns Hopkins Alumni Magazine, I discuss the making of this landmark dictionary — the first major revision of Webster’s after Noah Webster’s death.
By Joshua C. Kendall on February 10, 2011
In my Psychology Today Blog, I have recently discussed the career of James Gates Percival, the brilliant, but disturbed poet who was Webster’s lone assistant on the dictionary. Percival bears a striking resemblance to William Chester Minor, the American-born lexicographer who helped James Murray on the OED.
By Joshua C. Kendall on October 26, 2010
By Joshua C. Kendall on September 11, 2010
My “American Language Book Tour,” which starts next week, is inspired by America’s first book tour — the one taken by Noah Webster in 1785-1786 to promote his speller. Webster went up and down America, going from Portsmouth, NH to Savannah, GA.
As I explain in Chapter 4 of my book, “Counting His Way Across America,” in each town, Webster would do a personal count of all the houses. In 1788, he published his results in The American Magazine, a NYC literary journal he edited. The list contained entries such as the following:
New Haven 400
New York 3340
I hope to visit most of the towns he did, (though as of yet I have no plans to count any houses). Seven months before my pub date, I am already slated to appear in those five towns — plus nearly a dozen more — in a total of ten states.
By Joshua C. Kendall on August 9, 2010
By Joshua C. Kendall on July 1, 2010
Here’s the first post of my PT blog, “Adventures in Biography.”
By Joshua C. Kendall on June 2, 2010
The Wall St. Journal recently published an article Noah Webster’ s role as the father of the modern spelling bee