Wiener was born in Bialystok (then in the Russian Empire), of Polish-Jewish origin. Wiener declared, "Having 'for many years been a member of the Unitarian Church,' and having 'preached absolute amalgamation with the Gentile surroundings', (I) 'never allied with the Jewish Church or with Jews as such." His father was Zelman Wiener,[full citation needed] and his mother was Frejda Rabinowicz. He studied at the University of Warsaw in 1880, and then at the Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin, before immigrating to the United States in 1882. 
He traveled to the United States alone, with the purpose of creating a vegetarian commune in Belize. Then, after having travelled and worked around the country, he went to Kansas City, Missouri, and started working as a teacher.
Beginning in 1896, Wiener lectured on Slavic cultures at Harvard University and became the first American professor of Slavic literature. He translated 24 volumes of Leo Tolstoy's works into English,, a task which he completed in 24 months.. He taught George Rapall Noyes.
- French Words in Wolfram Von Eschenbach. 1893.
- Popular poetry of the Russian Jews. 1898.
- The history of Yiddish literature in the nineteenth century. 1899.
- The Ferrara Bible. 1900.
- Anthology of Russian Literature from the Earliest Period to the Present Time. 1902–1903.
- Gypsies as fortune-tellers and as blacksmiths. 1909.
- Philological fallacies: one in romance, another in Germanic. 1914.
- Commentary to the Germanic laws and mediaeval documents. 1915.
- An Interpretation of the Russian People. 1915.
- (translator) of Josef Svatopluk Machar's (1916). Magdalen.
- Contributions Toward a History of Arabico-Gothic Culture. 1917–1921.
- Africa and the discovery of America. 1922. Vols. I-III.
- The contemporary drama of Russia. 1924.
- The philological history of "tobacco" in America. 1925.
- Mayan and Mexican origins. 1926.
- http://americanjewisharchives.org/publications/journal/PDF/1962_14_01_00_levitas.pdf | Reform Jews and Zionism 1919-1921
- "Bialystok Birth Records".
- Liptzin, Sol (2007). "Wiener, Leo." Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Vol. 21, pp. 47-48. Retrieved via Gale Virtual Reference Library, August 4, 2018. Also available online via Encyclopedia.com.
- Conway, Siegelman (2005). Dark Hero of the Information Age. Basic Books. Retrieved November 10, 2010.
- Department of Slavic Languages & Literatures, 2018 The President and Fellows of Harvard College.
- Tolstoy, Lev N. (1904). The Complete Works of Count Tolstoy (Translated from the Original Russian and edited by Leo Wiener). I. Boston: Dana Estes & Company. pp. iii–iv. Retrieved July 12, 2017 – via Internet Archive.
- Norbert Wiener, Ex-Prodigy: My Childhood and Youth, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The M.I.T. Press, 1953, p. 85.
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- Works by Leo Wiener at The Online Books Page
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