Quote Investigator: Exploring the Origins of Quotes


A good example of why we shouldn’t believe everything we read on the internet played out on the weekend (12 Jan 2017) when in the US the Republican National Committee (GOP) posted a quote to twitter in celebration of former President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday anniversary.

The only problem (which twitter users were quick to pick up on) was the GOP failed to check the authenticity of the quote.

“A quick Google search shows that most people on the internet think this is a Lincoln quote, too, with plenty of little homemade memes to share. But the sleuths over at Vox dug up a blog post from the Quote Investigator site that claims that the quote didn’t come from Lincoln but, rather, Edward Stieglitz’s book The Second Forty Years.”


This is a common issue on the internet and without good substantive evidence anyone can get caught out.

One favourite for internet users (and surely they genuinely believe they are publishing a true quote) is to add quotes to images such as this:

However, nowhere in any of A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh books does the quote actually appear.

Pat Modern investigates the issue in the a Morden Communications blog post (March 3,2016 http://morcom.on.ca/a-a-milne-would-never-write-that/ ) and goes on to note:

“So where did the Facebook favourite come from? A clever writer at Disney, of course, in a 1997 direct-to-video called Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin. Don’t rush out to buy this forgotten classic – Rotten Tomatoes gives it a rating of 38%, and frankly it sounds ghastly.”



Outside of a quick google search, Garson O’Toole’s website Quote Investigator is an excellent starting point for checking the facts and origins surrounding many quotes which have been blurred by history.

Who really said what? This question often cannot be answered with complete finality, but approximate solutions can be iteratively improved over time.