Historical Figures

Notable Historical Figures in Worcester

  • Harvey Ball, inventor of the smiley face
  • George Bancroft, 17th U.S. Secretary of the Navy
  • Timothy Bigelow, Revolutionary War Patriot
  • Elizabeth Bishop, writer
  • Elbridge Boyden, architect
  • Loring Coes, inventor of the monkey wrench
  • Dorothea Dix, mental health reformer
  • Esther Forbes, writer
  • Abby Kelley Foster, abolitionist and suffragist
  • Robert Goddard, rocket engineer
  • Emma Goldman, anarchist
  • George Frisbie Hoar, lawyer and politician
  • Thomas Wentworth Higginson, abolitionist and editor of the Atlantic Monthly
  • Abbie Hoffman, civil rights activist
  • Esther Howland, first American manufacturer of Valentine’s Day cards
  • Levi Lincoln Jr., governor of Massachusetts
  • Stephen Salisbury III, philanthropist and founder of the Worcester Art Museum
  • Lucy Stone, abolitionist
  • Major Taylor, track cycling champion
  • Eli Thayer, abolitionist
  • Isaiah Thomas, publisher of the Worcester Spy and founder of the American Antiquarian Society
  • Bethany Veney, former slave and author
  • Ichabod Washburn, industrialist and philanthropist
  • Daniel B. Wesson, gunsmith and co-founder of Smith & Wesson
  • Dr. Samuel B. Woodward, first superintendent of the Worcester State Hospital

Finding Aids

Personal Papers

Family Collections

Diaries and Journals

Online Resources


  • Chase, Charles Augustus (1892). William Lincoln. Worcester, Mass.: C. Hamilton.
  • Erskine, Margaret (1976). Esther Forbes. Worcester, Mass.: Worcester Bicentennial Commission.
  • Kralyevich, Vincent (1994). “A moon man from Massachusetts: The Robert Goddard story.” VHS tape. Charles Grinker Productions.
  • Kranish, Michael (2019). The World’s Fastest Man: The Extraordinary Life of Cyclist Major Taylor, America’s First Black Sports Hero. New York: Scribner.
  • Menides, Laura Jehn and Angela G. Dorenkamp (1999). In Worcester, Massachusetts: Essays on Elizabeth Bishop, from the 1997 Elizabeth Bishop Conference. New York: P. Lang.

Biographies and Diaries

  • Thomas, Isaiah (1909). The Diary of Isaiah Thomas, 1805-1828. Worcester, Mass.: The Society.
  • Thompson, John (2011). The Life of John Thompson, A Fugitive Slave: Containing His History of 25 Years in Bondage, and His Providential Escape. London: Penguin.
  • Washburn, Ichabod and Henry T. Cheever (1878). Autobiography and Memorials of Ichabod Washburn: Showing How a Great Business Was Developed and Large Wealth Acquired for the Uses of Benevolence. Boston: D. Lothrop and Co.
  • Webber, Amos (1997). We All Got History: The Memory Books of Amos Webber. New York: Vintage Books.

3 thoughts on “Historical Figures

    1. Everett Leroy Gaylord II was a black man, born in 1918, and he died in 1983, completed 8th grade and is buried in Paxton, MA.
      He once lived on what was once Carroll St. and the city renamed the street for him, but no one knows why.

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