Celebrating Dictionary Day 2023 at the Beinecke Library

Event time: 
Sunday, October 15, 2023 - 1:00pm to 4:00pm
Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library (BRBL) See map
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

The Beinecke Library and the New Haven Museum join forces again to celebrate Dictionary Day, with displays at the museum, 114 Whitney Avenue on Friday/Saturday, October 13/14, 12noon-5pm, and the library, 121 Wall Street, Sunday, October 15, 1pm-4pm.

“Dictionary Day” marks the birthday of American education and language pioneer Noah Webster (born October 16, 1758). During these drop-in display events, visitors can browse primary source materials and publications documenting the life and work of Noah Webster, the Webster family, and New Haven during their time here.

Born in what is now West Hartford in 1758, Webster is best known today for his contributions to the standardization of American English through his dictionaries, the “Blue-Backed Speller” with which millions of children learned to read and spell, and other textbooks. However, Webster was a polymath, writing prolifically and influentially on topics including American independence and politics, slavery, public health, and Christianity. He also lobbied for copyright legislation in the United States and founded a number of newspapers. A graduate of Yale, Webster lived much of his life in New Haven and is buried with his wife, Rebecca Greenleaf Webster, in the Grove Street Cemetery.

On Friday, October 13 and Saturday, October 14, you are invited to visit the New Haven Museum where a selection of the Museum’s collections on Noah Webster will be on display. (The Museum is open 10am-5pm on Friday and 12noon-5pm on Saturday.) Items on display will include Webster’s notes on the letters A and B, photographs of his home in New Haven, and a bust of Webster by Chauncey Ives.

On Sunday, October 15, stop by the Beinecke Library between 1-4 to explore original manuscripts and publications documenting the Websters and their life in New Haven, including family papers, records related to the groundbreaking American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), and numerous other publications by Noah Webster. Visitors may also explore the history of dictionaries themselves through a number of historic lexicographical works predating Webster’s dictionary.

The event will be held in the reading room on the library’s courtyard level. The Beinecke Library exhibition hall (ground floor and mezzanine) is open on Sunday 12noon-5pm.

When you arrive at the Beinecke Library, please place bags, hats, coats, and other belongings in the provided lockers before heading downstairs. No ink pens are permitted in the reading room, but visitors may use the yellow pencils available in the library. Visitors are welcome to take non-flash photographs.

Open To: