Noah Webster

Detail of Noah Webster from a mid 19th century engraving – Connecticut Historical Society and Connecticut History Online

Noah Webster (1758-1843)

Noah Webster was an educator and reformer who helped Americans develop their own unique sense of identity through language. Born in 1758 in what eventually became the town of West Hartford, Webster graduated from Yale in 1778 and went to work as a teacher. His efforts soon focused, however, on breaking away from the British influence on American language and education. In 1801 he began compiling and defining lists of words with American derivations (such as “color” instead of the British “colour”). Webster turned these lists into a dictionary in 1806. After working on the book for an additional 22 years, he published the American Dictionary of the English Language in 1828, a volume defining over 65,000 words.


Noah Webster the schoolmaster of the republic, ca. 1891

Noah Webster and the Dream of a Common Language

Best remembered for the dictionary that now bears his name, Noah Webster played a pivotal role in shaping the young nation's political and social identity. …[more]

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West Hartford Historical Society. “Noah Webster House,” 2016. Link.


Yale University Library. “Finding Aid to the Webster Family Papers, Circa 1764-1909,” 2013. Link.
Connecticut Digital Archive. “Noah Webster Collection,” n.d. Link.
New Haven Museum. “Webster, Noah: MSS 129 - Alphabetical Index of Manuscript Collections,” 2013. Link.


Monaghan, E. Jennifer. A Common Heritage: Noah Webster’s Blue-Back Speller. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1983.
Webster, Noah. A Grammatical Institute, of the English Language. Boston, MA: Isaiah Thomas and Ebenezer T. Andrews, 1800. Link.
Webster, Noah. An American Dictionary of the English Language. New York, NY: S. Converse, 1828. Link.
Sargent, David C. Noah Webster. West Hartford, CT: Noah Webster Foundation and Historical Society of West Hartford, 1976.
Scudder, Horace Elisha. Noah Webster. Boston, MA: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1890. Link.
Warfel, Harry R. Noah Webster, Schoolmaster to America. New York, NY: The Macmillan Company, 1936.
Unger, Harlow G. Noah Webster: The Life and Times of an American Patriot. New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1998.
Webster, Noah. The Elementary Spelling Book: Being an Improvement on “The American Spelling-Book.” New York, NY: D. Appleton & Company, 1857. Link.