Based on and taken in part from a 1980 commemorative newsletter article
by Robert K. O'Neill
Revised by David Vancil
A native of Terre Haute, Warren N. Cordell graduated from Indiana State University in 1933, majoring in physics and mathematics. He did post-graduate work in statistics and business administration at the University of Chicago from 1938 to 1942.
In 1937, Cordell, who received an honorary doctorate from Indiana State University, joined the A. C. Nielsen Company, the pioneer marketing research organization. In his 41 years with the Nielsen Company, Cordell played a major role in the firm's rapid growth. In 1947, he was named vice-president and chief statistical officer of the company. He was also the Nielsen Company's liaison man with Washington for forty years. He retired in August 1978.
Dr. Cordell was a member of the Business Statistics Committee of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Census Advisory Committee of the American Marketing Association and served in a similar capacity for the American Statistical Association. He was a member of the Treasury-Internal Revenue Service Statistical Advisory Committee. Among Dr. Cordell's many professional affiliations were the following organizations: American Marketing Association, American Statistical Association, American Association of Public Opinion Research, Association for Computing Machinery, Operations Research Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In 1968, Indiana State University selected Warren Cordell to be the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of his achievements in an outstanding career and significant contributions to his community, state, and nation. Six years later, at the dedication of the Cunningham Memorial Library, the University conferred on Cordell the honorary degree Doctor of Letters.
In 1969, Warren Cordell made the first of four major gifts of dictionaries to Indiana State University both in his and his wife's name. By the time of his death, he had donated almost 3,500 separate titles or more than 4,000 volumes to the Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection of Dictionaries, Word Books, and Philological Texts (known as the Cordell Collection of Rare and Early Dictionaries until 1993).
For all his success in the business world, Warren Cordell was perhaps best known as a book collector. Certainly, he will be long remembered for his considerable contribution to the advancement of learning, namely, the Cordell Collection. This magnificent collection constitutes the richest and most accessible resource for the study of lexicography in the western hemisphere.
Warren Cordell sought not only to build the finest collection of western language dictionaries but also to promote its use. To this end he was instrumental in found the Dictionary Society of North America, based for many years at Indian State University. He served as president of the DSNA from 1977 to 1979 and honorary chairman until his death. In recognition of his distinguished contributions to the Society and field of lexicography, the Society published Papers on Lexicography in Honor of Warren N. Cordell.