Noah Webster, The Father of Public Health Research

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:

My Nation Story on WC Minor’s Career as an American Lexicographer

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.

The 1864 Edition of Webster’s — The 19th Century’s Best English Dictionary

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.

Noah Webster and “the Madman”

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.

Poets and Their Passion For Lexicographers

My “American Language Book Tour” — Following in Noah Webster’s Footsteps

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:

Newport 790
Hartford 300
New Haven 400
New York 3340
Philadelphia 4500

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.

My Boston Globe Review of a New Book on Celebrity

Psychology Today Blog

Here’s the first post of my PT blog, “Adventures in Biography.”

The Spelling Bee

The Wall St. Journal recently published an article Noah Webster’ s role as the father of the modern spelling bee