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Earliest Members of the Century Association

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Worthington C. Ford


Centurion, 1891–1941

Full Name Worthington Chauncey Ford

Born 15 February 1858 in New York (Brooklyn), New York

Died 7 March 1941 in North Atlantic, At Sea

Buried Groveland Cemetery, Scituate, Massachusetts

Proposed by George L. Rives and Albert G. Browne

Elected 6 June 1891 at age thirty-three

Archivist’s Note: He died of natural causes aboard the American export liner SS <Excalibur> while en route from Lisbon to New York. Brother of Paul L. Ford; great-grandson of (nonmember) Noah Webster.

Proposer of:

Century Memorial

The long and active career of Worthington Chauncey Ford began in the field of statistics. From 1884 to 1902 he was in turn Chief of the Bureau of Statistics in the State Department, in the Treasury Department and in the Boston Public Library. He spent a brief period reorganizing the bookkeeping system of the City of New York and then —more than halfway through his span of years—made the great shift, becoming Chief of the Division of Manuscripts of the Library of Congress. Thereafter, as librarian and as historian, he devoted the four decades that followed to the sources of American history, their collection, study and publication. His many books included a twelve-volume edition of the writings of George Washington and a two-volume edition of the letters of Henry Adams. He made himself the leading authority on the manuscripts of Washington. For twenty years, beginning in 1909, he was editor of the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1929 Ford was named director of the European Mission of the Library of Congress. Thereafter he passed most of his time in various countries of Europe assembling Americana from the archives. Transcripts of 6,000,000 documents pertaining to early American history were made under his direction. He was in Paris when the war broke out, retreated to southern France when the Germans entered Paris, and, heading homeward, died at sea on the liner Excalibur. Elected to the Century in 1891, he was for fifty years a member. He had survived his brother, also a Centurion, Paul Leicester Ford, the novelist, cut down in his prime, by forty-one years [sic: thirty-nine years].

Geoffrey Parsons
1941 Century Memorials