The Catholic Encyclopedia: An International Work of Reference on the
Constitution, Doctrine, Discipline, and History of the Catholic
Church, also referred to as the Old
Catholic Encyclopedia and the
Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia
published in the United States and designed to serve the Roman
Catholic Church. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last
three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index volume in
1914 and later supplementary volumes. It was designed "to give its
readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of
Catholic interests, action and doctrine".
Catholic Encyclopedia was published by the Robert Appleton Company
(RAC), a publishing company incorporated at New York in February 1905
for the express purpose of publishing the encyclopedia. The five
members of the encyclopedia's Editorial Board also served as the
directors of the company. In 1912 the company's name was changed to
The Encyclopedia Press. Publication of the encyclopedia's volumes was
the sole business conducted by the company during the project's
2.1 Authors and sources
3 Online versions
4 See also
6 External links
The encyclopedia was designed to serve the Roman Catholic Church,
concentrating on information related to the Church and explaining
matters from the Catholic point of view. It records the
accomplishments of Catholics and others in nearly all intellectual and
professional pursuits, including artists, educators, poets and
scientists. While more limited in focus than other general
encyclopedias, it was far broader in scope than previous efforts at
comprehensive Catholic encyclopedias, which had studied only internal
It offers in-depth portrayals of historical and philosophical ideas,
persons and events, from a Catholic perspective, including issues that
divide Catholicism from
Protestantism and other faith communities.
Since the encyclopedia was first published starting in 1907 and has
never been updated (versus the New Catholic Encyclopedia), many of its
entries may be out of date either with respect to the wider culture or
to the Catholic ecclesiastical world. In particular, it predates the
creation of the
Vatican City State (1929) and the Second Vatican
Council (1962–1965), which introduced many significant changes in
Catholic practice: For example, the online version of the entries on
Islam at newadvent.org states in an editorial note: "To
complement this article, which was taken from the 1910 Catholic
New Advent recommends a prayerful reading of 'Nostra
Aetate' from the Second Vatican Council."
The writing of the encyclopedia began on January 11, 1905, under the
supervision of five editors:
Charles G. Herbermann, Professor of
Latin and librarian of the College
of the City of New York
Edward A. Pace, Professor of Philosophy at The Catholic University of
America in Washington, D.C.
Condé B. Pallen, editor
The Rev. Thomas J. Shahan, Professor of Church History at The Catholic
The Rev. John J. Wynne, S.J., editor of Messenger of the Sacred Heart
The first edition was initially printed by Robert Appleton Company.
The volumes came out sequentially the first two in 1907 and the last
three in 1912:
Year first pub.
Charles George Herbermann
The editors had their first editorial meeting at the office of The
Messenger, on West 16th Street, New York City. The text received a
nihil obstat from an official censor, Remy Lafort, on November 1, 1908
and an imprimatur from John Murphy Farley, Archbishop of New York.
This review process was presumably accelerated by the reuse of older
authorized publications. In addition to frequent informal conferences
and constant communication by letters, the editors subsequently held
134 formal meetings to consider the plan, scope and progress of the
work, culminating in publication on April 19, 1913. A first supplement
was published in 1922; a second supplement in nine loose-leaf sections
was published by The Gilmary Society between 1950 and 1958.
In 1912, a special completely illustrated commemorative volume was
awarded to those patrons who contributed to the start of the
enterprise by buying multiple encyclopedia sets early on.
There was controversy over the presence of the Catholic Encyclopedia
in public libraries in the United States with nativist protests that
this violated the separation of church and state, including a
successful appeal in Belleville, New Jersey.
The encyclopedia was later updated under the auspices of The Catholic
University of America and a 17-volume
New Catholic Encyclopedia was
first published in 1967, and then in 2002.
Authors and sources
Catholic Encyclopedia and its makers states that:
The work is entirely new, and not merely a translation or a
compilation from other encyclopedic sources. The editors have insisted
that the articles should contain the latest and most accurate
information to be obtained from the standard works on each subject.
However, "from standard works" allows that some of the articles from
European contributors such as
Pierre Batiffol (French), Johann Peter
Kirsch (German) had previously been published in whole or in part in
Europe and were translated and edited for the Encyclopedia. Those
who wrote new articles in English include
Anthony Maas and Herbert
Under copyright law of the United States, all works published in the
United States before 1923 are in the public domain. In 1993, Kevin
Knight, then a 26-year-old resident of Denver, Colorado, decided,
during the visit of
Pope John Paul II
Pope John Paul II to that city for World Youth
Day, to launch a project to publish the 1913 edition of the
encyclopedia on the Internet. Knight founded the Web site New Advent
to host the undertaking. Volunteers from the United States, Canada,
Brazil helped in the transcription of the original
material. The site went online in 1995, and transcription work ended
in 1997.[Volumes 1]
Catholic Answers published a watermarked version derived from
page scans. This version has since been replaced with a transcription
of the Encyclopedia similar to that found at the New Advent
site.[Volumes 2] The
Catholic Answers transcription, however, is an
exact transcription of the original text, whereas the New Advent
version at times modernizes certain words (e.g., using the names of
Old Testament books found in modern Bibles, such as "1 & 2
Chronicles" and "Obadiah", in place of the Vulgate/Douay–Rheims
titles, such as "1 & 2 Paralipomenon" and "Abdias") and Biblical
citation formatting (i.e., the
Catholic Answers version retains the
original's usage of Roman numerals for chapter numbers [e.g., Genesis
i, 1], while the
New Advent version uses Arabic numerals throughout
[e.g., Genesis 1:1]).
Other scanned copies of the 1913 Encyclopedia are available on Google
Books, at the Internet Archive, and at Wikimedia Commons. Wikisource
also hosts a transcription project backed by the scans hosted at
The 1922 supplement to the Encyclopedia is also in the public domain
and is available online. The
New Catholic Encyclopedia also is
available online at some libraries.
Lists of encyclopedias
New Catholic Encyclopedia
^ "The Catholic Encyclopedia". New Advent. Retrieved September 6,
^ "Catholic Encyclopedia". Catholic Answers.
Year first pub.
Internet Archive 1
Google Books 1
Charles George Herbermann
Internet Archive 2
Google Books 2
Internet Archive 3
Google Books 3
Internet Archive 4
Google Books 4
Internet Archive 5
Google Books 5
Internet Archive 6
Google Books 6
Internet Archive 7
Google Books 7
Internet Archive 8
Google Books 8
Internet Archive 9
Google Books 9
Internet Archive 10
Google Books 10
Internet Archive 11
Google Books 11
Internet Archive 12
Google Books 12
Internet Archive 13
Google Books 13
Internet Archive 14
Google Books 14
Internet Archive 15
Google Books 15
Internet Archive 16
Google Books 16
Supplement I (1922)
Internet Archive 17
Google Books 17
Google Books 18
Supplemental Year Books
Supplemental Year Books 1912–1922
^ Herberman, Charles G.; et al., eds. (1907). The Catholic
Encyclopedia. Volume 1: Aachen–Assize. New York: Robert Appleton
Company. Title page.
^ "The Original Catholic Encyclopedia". El Cajon, California: Catholic
Answers. Retrieved 2011-07-21.
^ Preface to the Catholic Encyclopedia
^ "Scan of 'Preface'". El Cajon, California: Catholic Answers.
Retrieved September 6, 2010.
^ "The Making of the Catholic Encyclopedia". The Catholic Encyclopedia
and its Makers. New York: The Encyclopedia Press. 1917.
pp. iii–viii. OCLC 748253.
^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Mohammed and Mohammedanism (Islam)".
Newadvent.org. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
^ "About". El Cajon, California: Catholic Answers. Retrieved September
^ "Celledoor Miscellany: Selected Illustrations from the Catholic
Encyclopedia". Celledoor.blogspot.com. June 7, 2010. Retrieved
^ Separation of Church and State, Hamburger, Philip, Harvard
University Press (2002), p. 412.
^ The Catholic encyclopedia and its makers 1917
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Catholic Encyclopedia.
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Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)
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