Smithsonian Names Joseph Smith, Jr., To Top Ten Most Significant Americans of All Time

Audacity Personified:  Joseph Smith, Jr. Joseph Smith

At 17 he said an angel appeared to him and told him he’d be famous. Joseph said, “He called me by name and said. . . my name should be had for good and evil among all people.” (

That was 1824.

In 2014 Smithsonian agreed. And except for one top 10 peer Joseph is in “angelically” good company:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Pocahontas
  • Mark Twain
  • Babe Ruth
  • Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Benedict Arnold (Eh?)
  • Christopher Columbus
  • Andrew Carnegie

But, Who Says? How Did Smithsonian Arrive At This?

“Simply put, [say the editors of Smithsonian magazine] Skiena and Ward [authors of Who Is Bigger) have developed an algorithmic method of ranking historical figures, just as Google ranks web pages. But while Google ranks web pages according to relevance to your search terms, Skiena and Ward rank people according to their historical significance, which they define as ‘the result of social and cultural forces acting on the mass of an individual’s achievement.’ Their rankings account not only for what individuals have done, but also for how well others remember and value them for it.” (

But, where did they get their data and how does Smithsonian play into the Top 10 Most Significant Americans? 

Smithsonian Title PageFirst of all the quantity of data derives from the English-language Wikipedia of 840,000+ pages listing individuals along with data extracted from 15 million Google-scanned books.

According to Smithsonian:  “[Skiena and Ward] analyzed this data to produce a single score for each person, using a formula that incorporates the number of links to each page, the number of page visits, the length of each entry and the frequency of edits to each page. Their algorithms differentiate between two kinds of historical reputation, what they call ‘gravitas’ and ‘celebrity.’ . . .

“Their concept of significance has less to do with achievement than with an individual’s strength as an Internet meme—how vividly he or she remains in our collective memory.” (

So, obviously there might be some problems with how Wikipedia has aggregated information about individuals in America… and that is why Smithsonian’s influence is so important.

Because Smithsonian has covered American history in depth since 1970 and because they work closely with the National Museum of American History they could “synthesize” their expertise and apply the rigor of Skiena and Ward in order to bring qualitative judgment to bear on the subject–not just the results of a modern-day popularity contest.

Smithsonian narrowed the screen to just Americans and then created the 10 categories. What resulted from this was a Top 10 list in 10 categories. They assert that this combo of quantity with quality mitigates Wiki bias. (

Here Are The other 9:

(To read more click here:

Pocahontas Mark Twain Martin Luther King

Frank Lloyd Wright Benedict Arnold Christopher Columbus Babe Ruth Abraham Lincoln

 And a closer look at the competition in Smithsonian’s 10 categories:


Christopher Columbus
Henry Hudson
Amerigo Vespucci
John Smith
Giovanni da Verrazzano
John Muir
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
Kit Carson
Neil Armstrong
John Wesley Powell

Rebels & resisters

Martin Luther King Jr.
Robert E. Lee
Thomas Paine
John Brown
Frederick Douglass
Susan B. Anthony
W.E.B. Du Bois
Sitting Bull
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Malcolm X


Abraham Lincoln
George Washington
Thomas Jefferson
Theodore Roosevelt
Ulysses S. Grant
Ronald W. Reagan
George W. Bush
Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
James Madison
Andrew Jackson

First Women

Eleanor Roosevelt
Hillary Clinton
Sarah Palin
Martha Washington
Hellen Keller
Sojourner Truth
Jane Addams
Edith Wharton
Bette Davis
Oprah Winfrey


Benedict Arnold
Jesse James
John Wilkes Booth
Al Capone
Billy the Kid
William M. “Boss” Tweed
Charles Manson
Wild Bill Hickok
Lee Harvey Oswald
John Dillinger
Lucky Luciano


Frank Lloyd Wright
Andy Warhol
Frederick Law Olmsted
James Abbott MacNeill Whistler
Jackson Pollock
John James Audubon
Georgia O’Keeffe
Thomas Eakins
Thomas Nast
Alfred Stieglitz
Ansel Adams

Religious figures

Joseph Smith Jr.
William Penn
Brigham Young
Roger Williams
Anne Hutchinson
Jonathan Edwards
L. Ron Hubbard
Ellen G. White
Cotton Mather
Mary Baker Eddy
Billy Graham

Pop icons

Mark Twain
Elvis Presley
Bob Dylan
Michael Jackson
Charlie Chaplin
Jimi Hendrix
Marilyn Monroe
Frank Sinatra
Louis Armstrong
Mary Pickford


Andrew Carnegie
Henry Ford
John D. Rockefeller
J.P. Morgan
Walt Disney
Thomas Alva Edison
William Randolph Hearst
Howard Hughes
Bill Gates
Cornelius Vanderbilt
Steve Jobs


Babe Ruth
Muhammad Ali
Jackie Robinson
James Naismith
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Ty Cobb
Michael Jordan
Hulk Hogan
Jim Thorpe
Billie Jean King

Read more:


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