Of 1920’s seven inductees into NYC’s Hall of Fame for Great Americans, probably only two would be considered household names today: Mark Twain and Patrick Henry.
That year’s honorees feature many names that would stump a modern audience, even a well-educated one. This 2018 New York Times article quoted Cultural Landscape Foundation executive director Charles A. Birnbaum:
The Hall is a monument to “the changing nature of fame itself. That’s one of the reasons it has to endure. That conversation is still going on.”
Here were 1920’s seven inductees:
- Mark Twain, the author and humorist most famous for creating the characters Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, and whose quips and witticisms are still quoted today.
- Patrick Henry, the Founding Father and Virginia governor most famous for his line “Give me liberty or give me death!”
- Roger Williams, the minister who advocated separation of church/state and was an early abolitionist.
- Augustus Saint-Gaudens, a sculptor who designed prominent statues including of Abraham Lincoln and William Tecumseh Sherman.
- Alice Freeman Palmer, the President of Wellesley College and one of the most prominent advocates for women’s education.
- William Thomas Green Morton, the first dentist to use ether as an anesthetic. This 2018 New York Times article cited Morton as one of the three most obscure names in the Hall.
- James Buchanan Eads, the inventor who constructed the first steel bridge.
The last three names inducted in 1976 were American Red Cross founder Clara Barton, steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, and horticulturist Luther Burbank. Nobody has been added since, and the hall has fallen into disrepair.
Who’s Who Among Nominees for the Hall of Fame: Unusual Number of Foreign-Born Candidates Suggested on This Year’s List — Twenty of the Eighty-Nine Names Will be Chosen by Committee Next Fall — The Famous and Less Famous
Published: Sunday, May 9, 1920