Marshall W. Taylor was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Nov. 26, 1878. His family moved to Indiana from Kentucky following the Civil War. As a teenager, Marshall worked for a bicycle shop, performing stunts while wearing a soldier's uniform as a costume. This earned him the nickname "Major."
During the next few decades, "Major" Taylor set several world records and won many cycling championships. He was a world champion cyclist and athlete, and he was, and continues to be, an inspiration to anyone seeking to overcome racial prejudice and bigotry. Indianapolis belatedly honored Taylor in 1982 when it opened the Major Taylor Velodrome near Marian University (formerly, Marian College).
You can find out much more about this great cyclist, inventor, and athlete in his biography, Marshall "Major" Taylor: World Champion Bicyclist, 1899-1901, by Marlene Targ Brill (21st Century Books, Trailblazer Biography Series, 2007; ISBN 9780822566106). We have this book in the MPL Youth Bio collection. You may place a hold on it in the online Evergreen Indiana (E.I.) catalog, if you have an E.I. library card.
Another good biography is Major Taylor: the Fastest Bicycle Rider in the World, by Andrew Ritchie (Van der Plas/Cycle Publishing, 2nd ed., 2009; ISBN 9781892495655). This book is available in the MPL Indiana Room, and E.I. library cardholders who would like to read it may place an online hold here.
Ritchie took part of his book's title from Taylor's self-published 1928 autobiography, a copy of which is difficult to obtain today.
Hoosier fourth grade students interested in Indiana history should learn about "Major" Taylor, especially if they need to write a book report about a famous Hoosier. Taylor led a fascinating life and achieved greatness by overcoming enormous barriers.