Yale Alumni Magazine Article on Stephen Goranson & Serenity Prayer

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Mon Feb 1 11:35:30 UTC 2010

The online version of my regular column in the Yale Alumni Magazine for Jan./Feb. 2010 is now available:


This discusses Stephen Goranson's discovery of a 1937 attribution of the Serenity Prayer to Reinhold Niebuhr, and my response to his discovery (giving a more accurate version of my response than the New York Times did).  I describe Stephen there as follows:

"Goranson, as I told Goodstein, is an extraordinarily talented researcher. He is one of a number of people who use databases of historical texts, such as Google Books, Newspaperarchive, and ProQuest Historical Newspapers, to unearth earlier usages of words and quotations than previously known. Many of those researchers communicate their findings to the ADS-L discussion list, the Oxford English Dictionary staff, or to me for the Yale Book of Quotations. Goranson has made a succession of impressive breakthroughs, such as finding the earliest known occurrence of the phrase 'whole nine yards,' and this exciting revelation adds to his achievements."

Fred Shapiro
YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list