The Most Underappreciated People in History

Acknowledging everyone’s contributions over the years is an impossible task. Kind of like making a top 10 list — everyone has something you forgot to include. Here are a few underappreciated people that should be remembered and appreciated.

Frank Wills

It was Frank’s job to make sure the hotel premises were secure and safe. Wills called the police when he spied an open door and the officers found a few burglars rummaging through the rooms. The hotel Wills worked at was the Watergate Hotel and the year was 1972. The burglars were there on President Nixon’s behalf. Why was Wills underappreciated? Despite being called a hero by the press, his later life was ignored by future employers. Howard University admitted to not hiring the former hero because they were afraid of losing federal funding. Wills died in 2000, as one of the most underappreciated people in history and broke. While it doesn’t pay to break the law, evidently it doesn’t pay to stop the criminals either.

Frank J. Wilson

This Frank was the IRS agent and one of those responsible for the arrest of Al Capone. Wilson was able to help in the arrest of Bruno Hauptmann who was charged with the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby. Why is a man like this underappreciated? Because nobody knew. His job was very dependent on no one knowing what he was doing. During his years of bringing Capone, Bruno and many others to justice, Wilson did not even tell his wife how is day at work went.

Elizabeth Kenny

Kenny was a nurse who developed a treatment in dealing with polio. She massaged the affected muscles to keep them working when the current wisdom was to constrain the legs. While not every patient recuperated, her successes were largely ignored. This was before Dr. Jonas Salk came up with the polio vaccine making all of her efforts moot. But her results  are in plain sight today even if she is still on our list of underappreciated people. Her efforts to get the patient moving again led to the physical rehabilitation industry. Even underappreciated people can change the world — eventually.

Alan Turing

Turing was the genius who helped the Allied war effort during World War II by deciphering German codes. It was his work as a cryptoanalyst that made him so valuable during the war. It was his work as a computer scientist that helped develop the computer we all know and love today. Why was he so underappreciated after the war? He was gay during a time where it was illegal to be gay. He was arrested and prosecuted in 1952. His punishment was chemical castration which he chose to stay out of prison. When he died two years later, an inquest ruled it a suicide. Sheesh, if this is how we treat our friends, how do we treat our enemies?

Nicola Tesla

Tesla’s name is becoming more and more well known as time marches on but there was a time when his ignored genius was almost criminal. No amount of recognition today would make up for the lost opportunities during his lifetime. His accomplishments would take an entire book, if not an entire library. His work has led to the modern era of technology including such standards as alternating current (which supplies electricity to every household), WIFI, robotics, X-Rays, radar and lasers to name just a few. He was a genius that rivaled Einstein.

Why is he on our list of underappreciated people? Two reasons. One, he was not interested in making a profit. He was more interested in benefiting the world at little or no cost. The second reason?  Tesla lived during the time of people like Thomas Edison, who took advantage of Tesla’s ignorance of how the world worked. Though Tesla had over 700 patents, many important ones were filed by other scientists of note claiming proprietary rights for themselves. In 1943, the man who brought us the future died broke and underappreciated.


Who do you appreciate in your life?