May 26, 2022

Indiana University (IU) is America’s Dictionary Destination: Lilly Library Establishes Merriam-Webster Archive and Acquires the Complete Madeline Kripke Dictionary Collection

From Indiana University:

Image Source: IU Bloomington Libraries

When America’s top dictionary editors and language scholars find themselves at a loss for words, where do they turn? For decades the illustrious Dame of Dictionaries, Madeline Kripke, answered the call. Her stockpile of more than 20,000 linguistic books and ephemera was often referred to as the world’s largest and finest dictionary collection. In fact, Michael Adams, Provost Professor and Chair of the English Department at Indiana University Bloomington, says Kripke spent the last decades of her life dedicated to building the collection and amassed “the most important collection of dictionary and related materials that has ever been curated by anyone.”

National Dictionary Day is Oct. 16 and marks the birthday of the father of the American dictionary, Noah Webster.

In celebration, the Lilly Library announces the establishment of the Merriam-Webster Archive, as well as the acquisition of the complete Madeline Kripke Dictionary Collection, of which the archive is a part.

Lindsay Rose Russell is the Executive Director of the Dictionary Society of North America as well as an Associate Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the significance or charm of Madeline Kripke’s collection: It’s not just that it’s big or that it contains all kinds of really important dictionaries. It’s that, in it, pristine leather-bound volumes of field-defining dictionaries sit next to little-known or heavily-annotated dialect glossaries, tattered broadsides of underworld jargon, and all kinds of other invaluable lexicographical oddities few have heard of or thought to collect,” she points out. “And all of that material has the distinction of having literally lived with the most important dictionary collector of all time.”

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.