Legacy Library: Joseph E. Worcester

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Member: JosephEWorcester

CollectionsYour library (36), Harvard College Donation Ledger 1866 (36), All collections (36)

Reviews1 review


MediaNot set (1), Book (35), Paper Book (35)

Cloudsauthor cloud, tag mirror

About meJoseph Emerson Worcester (1784-1865), was an American lexicographer who, like his competitor Noah Webster, was a graduate of Yale University: Webster, Class of 1778 and Worcester, Class of 1811. Anson Phelps Stokes compares the two in volume 2 of his 1914 book, Memorials of Eminent Yale Men:

Worcester and Webster are names that group themselves together in the
public mind, so it seems natural that they should follow each other in this
volume. But they were far from being warm friends. Their temperaments
and attitudes of mind were very different. Webster did his work with the
great public and its judgments always in mind. He wanted to influence the
nation. Worcester was a more modest and retiring scholar. Webster tried
to change the language so as to conform to his ideals of what was right.
Worcester was satisfied to exhibit his mother tongue as it was (323).

The conflict between Worcester and Webster developed into what is known as "The Dictionary Wars." You can read about this conflict in Jerry Morris's blog post, Some Worcester Sources and Other Discourses Concerning the Dictionary Wars.

Before becoming a lexicographer, Worcester (pronounced Wuss-tur) was a teacher and then ran a school himself for a few years. Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of his pupils. Worcester's first published work was a Geographical Dictionary published in 1817. His first English Dictionary was a Johnson's and Todd's Dictionary, which he edited in 1827 (some say 1828, but Worcester listed 1827 as the year it was first published). Worcester was compiling his own dictionary in 1829 but put it aside to abridge Webster's 1828 Dictionary in 1829 (Webster had refused to make the abridgement). Worcester published his own Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary in 1830, which was more popular than Webster's 1828 Dictionary and brought about the Dictionary Wars. Worcester's best dictionary was his 1860 Dictionary of the English Language.

About my libraryCataloging is currently in progress.

Here's a blog post about Worcester's Library:
121 Words or More About the Library of an American Lexicographer

For the most part, Joseph E. Worcester's library is a reference library that he used to compile his dictionaries.
The books listed in the collection, Harvard College Donation Ledger 1866, are 255 dictionaries and other reference works he bequeathed to Harvard that the college did not have copies of. Jerry Morris queried Harvard Library about Worcester's bequest, and one good person in the Harvard Archives Reference Department located the donation ledger for 1866 and provided images of the applicable pages. Jerry Morris then requested and received permission to catalog the books on Library Thing. Here is the Harvard Library Citation Number:
Harvard College Library. Donation lists and books received by the Harvard College Library, 1827-1877, UAIII Box 11. Harvard University Archives.

The Donation Ledger listed the paper sizes of the books, which are listed in the Comments Section of the LT entries. Note: f˚ stands for folio.

The 255 books donated to Harvard Library were not identified in a catalog of Worcester's library (1395 volumes) which was included in the correspondence of Joseph E. Worcester, now in the Manuscript Collection, Joseph Emerson Worcester 1784-1865, Cunningham Library, Indiana State University. Most of the books listed in the original catalogue are identified–at best– by short title only. And some books will be extremely difficult to identify accurately. All the books, however, are identified by location: by bookcase and by shelf.


Real nameJoseph E. Worcester

Favorite authorsNot set

Account typepublic, lifetime

URLs /profile/JosephEWorcester (profile)
/catalog/JosephEWorcester (library)

Member sinceJul 9, 2016

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