Noah Webster was born 16 October 1758 in West Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States to Noah Webster (1722-1813) and Mercy Steele (1727-1794) and died 28 May 1843 New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States of unspecified causes. He married Rebecca Greenleaf (1766-1847) 26 October 1789 in New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States.

Noah's surname became synonymous with "Dictionary".

Webster was born in the Western Division of Hartford (which became West Hartford, Connecticut) to an established family. His father Noah Sr. (1722–1813) was a descendant of Connecticut Governor John Webster; his mother Mercy (Steele) Webster (1727–1794) was a descendant of Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony.[1] His father was primarily a farmer, though he was also deacon of the local Congregational church, captain of the town's militia, and a founder of a local book society (a precursor to the public library).[2] After American independence, he was appointed a justice of the peace.[3]

Webster's father never attended college, but he was intellectually curious and prized education. Webster's mother spent long hours teaching her children spelling, mathematics, and music.[4] At age six, Webster began attending a dilapidated one-room primary school built by West Hartford's Ecclesiastical Society. Years later, he described the teachers as the "dregs of humanity" and complained that the instruction was mainly in religion.[5] Webster's experiences there motivated him to improve the educational experience of future generations.[6]


#g1: Offspring of Noah Webster (1722-1813) and Mercy Steele (1727-1794)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Mercy Webster (1749-1820) , ,
Abraham Webster (1751-1831) , ,
Jerusha Webster (1756-1821) , ,
Noah Webster (1758-1843) 16 October 1758, West Hartford, Hartford County, Connecticut, United States 28 May 1843, New Haven, New Haven County, Connecticut, United States Rebecca Greenleaf (1766-1847)
Charles Webster (1762-1817) , ,


Offspring of Noah Webster and Rebecca Greenleaf (1766-1847)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Emily Schotten Webster (1790-1861)
Frances Julianna Webster (1793-1869)
Harriet Webster (1797-1844)
Mary Webster (1799-1819)
William Greenleaf Webster (1801-1869)
Eliza Webster (1803-1888)
Henry Webster (1806-1807)
Louisa Webster (1808-1874)


Footnotes (including sources)

‡ General

Robin Patterson


  1. ^ Noah had two brothers, Abraham (1751–1831) and Charles (b. 1762), and two sisters, Mercy (1749–1820) and Jerusha (1756–1831).
  2. ^ Kendall, Joshua, The Forgotten Founding Father, p. 22.
  3. ^ Kendall, p. 22.
  4. ^ Kendall, pp. 21–23.
  5. ^ Kendall, pp. 22–24.
  6. ^ Kendall, p. 24.


  • "Noah Webster" in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21). vol 18 section 25:33 online edition
  • Bynack, Vincent P. "Noah Webster and the Idea of a National Culture: the Pathologies of Epistemology." Journal of the History of Ideas 1984 45(1): 99–114. ISSN 0022-5037 in Jstor
  • Ellis, Joseph J. After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture 1979. chapter 6, interpretive essay online edition
  • Gallardo, Andres. "The Standardization of American English." PhD dissertation State U. of New York, Buffalo 1980. 367 pp. DAI 1981 41(8): 3557-A. 8104193, focused on Webster's dictionary
  • Hayakawa, Isamu. A Comprehensive Catalog of Webster's Dictionaries from 1808 to 2000 (2014) Amazon (Tokyo: Texnai).
  • Kendall, Joshua. The Forgotten Founding Father: Noah Webster's Obsession and the Creation of an American Culture (2011)
  • Leavitt, Robert Keith. Noah's Ark New England Yankees and the Endless Quest: a Short History of the Original Webster Dictionaries, With Particular Reference to Their First Hundred Years (1947). 106 pp
  • Lepore, Jill. "Noah's Mark: Webster and the original dictionary wars." The New Yorker, (November 6, 2006). 78–87. online edition
  • Malone, Kemp. "Webster, Noah," Dictionary of American Biography, Volume 10 (1936)
  • Micklethwait, David. Noah Webster and the American Dictionary (2005)
  • Morgan, John S. Noah Webster (1975), popular biography
  • Moss, Richard J. Noah Webster. (1984). 131 pp. Wester as author
  • Nelson, C. Louise. "Neglect of Economic Education in Webster's 'Blue-Backed Speller'" American Economist, Vol. 39, 1995 online edition
  • Pelanda, Brian. Declarations of Cultural Independence: The Nationalistic Imperative Behind the Passage of Early American Copyright Laws, 1783–1787 Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., Vol. 58, p. 431, 2011.
  • Proudfit, Isabel. Noah Webster Father of the Dictionary (1966).
  • Rollins, Richard. The Long Journey of Noah Webster (1980) (ISBN 0-8122-7778-3)
  • Rollins, Richard M. "Words as Social Control: Noah Webster and the Creation of the American Dictionary". American Quarterly 1976 28(4): 415–430. ISSN 0003-0678 JSTOR 2712538.
  • Scudder, Horace E. (1881). Noah Webster. Cambridge, Mass.: The Riverside Press.  (from the series American Men of Letters. New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company)
  • Snyder, K. Alan. Defining Noah Webster: Mind and Morals in the Early Republic. (1990). 421 pp.
  • Southard, Bruce. "Noah Webster: America's Forgotten Linguist." American Speech 1979 54(1): 12–22. ISSN 0003-1283 in Jstor
  • Unger, Harlow Giles. Noah Webster: The Life and Times of an American Patriot (1998), scholarly biography
  • Warfel, Harry R. Noah Webster: Schoolmaster to America (1936), a standard biography

Primary sources

  • Harry R. Warfel, ed., Letters of Noah Webster (1953),
  • Homer D. Babbidge, Jr., ed., Noah Webster: On Being American (1967), selections from his writings
  • Webster, Noah. The American Spelling Book: Containing the Rudiments of the English Language for the Use of Schools in the United States by Noah Webster 1836 edition online, the famous Blue- Backed Speller
  • Webster, Noah. An American dictionary of the English language 1848 edition online
  • Webster, Noah. A grammatical institute of the English language 1800 edition online
  • Webster, Noah. Miscellaneous papers on political and commercial subjects 1802 edition online mostly about banks
  • Webster, Noah. A collection of essays and fugitiv writings: on moral, historical, political and literary subjects 1790 edition online 414 pages

External links

Quotations from Wikiquote
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