Encyclopedia Americana is one of the largest general encyclopedias in
the English language. Following the acquisition of
Grolier in 2000,
the encyclopedia has been produced by Scholastic.
The encyclopedia has more than 45,000 articles, most of them more than
500 words and many running to considerable length (the "United States"
article is over 300,000 words). The work's coverage of American and
Canadian geography and history has been a traditional strength.
Written by 6,500 contributors, the
Encyclopedia Americana includes
over 9,000 bibliographies, 150,000 cross-references, 1,000+ tables,
1,200 maps, and almost 4,500 black-and-white line art and color
images. It also has 680 factboxes. Most articles are signed by their
Long available as a 30-volume print set, the
Encyclopedia Americana is
now marketed as an online encyclopedia requiring a subscription. In
March 2008, Scholastic said that print sales remained good but that
the company was still deciding on the future of the print edition.
The company did not produce an edition in 2007, a change from its
previous approach of releasing a revised print edition each year. The
most recent print edition of the
Encyclopedia Americana was published
The online version of the
Encyclopedia Americana, first introduced in
1997, continues to be updated and sold. This work, like the print set
from which it is derived, is designed for high school and first-year
college students along with public library users. It is available to
libraries as one of the options in the
Grolier Online reference
service, which also includes the
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia,
intended for middle and high school students, and The New Book of
Knowledge, an encyclopedia for elementary and middle school students.
Grolier Online is not available to individual subscribers.
1 History and predecessors
2 Later developments
4 See also
6 External links
History and predecessors
This 1921 advertisement for the
Encyclopedia Americana suggests that
other encyclopedias are as out-of-date as the locomotives of 90 years
There have been three separate works using the title Encyclopedia
The first began publishing in the 1820s by the German exile Francis
Lieber. The 13 volumes of the first edition were completed in 1833,
and other editions and printings followed in 1835, 1836, 1847-1848,
1849 and 1858. Lieber's work was based upon and was in no small part a
translation of the 7th edition of the well established
Konversations-Lexikon of Brockhaus. Some material from this set was
carried over into the modern version, as well as the Brockhaus short
Encyclopedia Americana was published by J.M. Stoddart
between 1883 and 1889, as a supplement to American reprintings of the
9th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. It was four quarto
volumes meant to "extend and complete the articles in Britannica".
Stoddart's work, however, is not connected to the earlier work by
In 1902 a new version in 16 volumes was published under the title
Encyclopedia Americana, under the editorial supervision of Scientific
American magazine. The magazine's editor, Frederick Converse Beach,
was editor-in-chief, and was said to be assisted by hundreds of
eminent scholars and authorities who served as consulting editors or
authors. The first publisher was R.S. Peale & Co; between 1903 and
1906 further editions were issued by the Americana Corp. and the
Scientific American Compiling Department, with George Edwin Rines
appointed managing editor in 1903. The relationship with Scientific
American was terminated in 1911. From 1907 to 1912, the work was
published as The Americana.
A major new edition appeared in 1918–20 in 30 volumes, with George
Edwin Rines as editor-in-chief. An Annual or Yearbook was also
published each year beginning in 1923 and continuing until 2000.
The encyclopedia was purchased by
Grolier in 1945. By the 1960s, sales
of the Americana and its sister publications under Grolier—The Book
of Knowledge, the Book of Popular Science, and Lands and
Peoples—were strong enough to support the company's occupancy of a
large building (variously named the Americana Building and the Grolier
Building) in Midtown Manhattan, at 575 Lexington Avenue. Sales during
this period were accomplished primarily through mail-order and
Telemarketing and third-party distribution
through their Lexicon division added to sales volumes in the 1970s. By
the late 1970s,
Grolier had moved its operations to Danbury,
Grolier was purchased by the French media company Hachette,
which owned a well-known French-language encyclopedia, the Hachette
Encyclopedia. Hachette was later absorbed by the French conglomerate
the Lagardère Group.
A CD-ROM version of the encyclopedia was published in 1995. Although
the text and images were stored on separate disks, it was in keeping
with standards current at the time. More importantly, the work had
been digitized, allowing for release of an online version in 1997.
Over the next few years the product was augmented with additional
features, functions, supplementary references, Internet links, and
current events journal. A redesigned interface and partly reengineered
product, featuring enhanced search capabilities and a first-ever
ADA-compliant, text-only version for users with disabilities, was
presented in 2002.
The acquisition of
Grolier by Scholastic for US$400 million, took
place in 2000. The new owners projected a 30% increase in operating
income, although historically
Grolier had experienced earnings of 7%
to 8% on income. Staff reductions as a means of controlling costs
followed soon thereafter, even while an effort was made to augment the
sales force. Cuts occurred every year between 2000 and 2007, leaving a
much-depleted work force to carry out the duties of maintaining a
large encyclopedia database. Today,
Encyclopedia Americana lives
on as an integral database within the
Grolier Online product.
Frederick Converse Beach, 1902–1917. Engineer and editor of
Scientific American magazine.
George Edwin Rines, 1917–1920. Author and editor.
A. H. McDannald, 1920–1948. Reporter (
Baltimore News and Baltimore
Evening Sun), editor, and author.
Lavinia P. Dudley, 1948–1964. Editor (
Encyclopædia Britannica and
Encyclopedia Americana) and manager; first woman to head a major
American reference publication.
George A. Cornish, 1965–1970. Reporter (New York Herald Tribune) and
Bernard S. Cayne, 1970–1980. Educational researcher (Educational
Testing Service, Harvard Educational Review), editor (Ginn & Co.,
Collier's Encyclopedia, Macmillan) and business executive (Grolier
Alan H. Smith, 1980–1985. Editor (Grolier/
David T. Holland, 1985–1991. Editor (Harcourt Brace,
Mark Cummings, 1991–2000. Editor (Macmillan, Oxford University
Michael Shally-Jensen, 2000–2005. Editor
K. Anne Ranson, 2005–2006. Editor (Academic American Encyclopedia,
Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia).
Joseph M. Castagno, 2006–present. Editor (Grolier/Lands and Peoples,
New Book of Popular Science).
Lists of encyclopedias
Encyclopedia Americana". Encyclopædia Britannica.
^ Noam Cohen (16 March 2008). "Start Writing the Eulogies for Print
Encyclopedias". New York Times. Retrieved 26 June 2008.
Encyclopedia Americana, 1963 Edition, vol. 10, p. 317a.
^ Encyclopaedia Americana; A Popular Dictionary of Arts, Sciences,
Literature, History, Politics and Biography, Brought Down to the
Present Time; Including a Copious Collection of Original Articles in
American Biography; on the Basis of the Seventh Edition of the German
Conversations-Lexicon. Edited by Francis Lieber, Assisted by E.
Wigglesworth. I (1 ed.). Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey. 1829.
Retrieved February 24, 2017 – via Internet Archive.
^ "Literary Gossip". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics,
literature, science and arts. Vol. 1 no. 12. 21 February
1884. p. 190. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
^ Walsh, S. Padraig (1968). Anglo-American General Encyclopedias: A
Historical Bibliography, 1703–1967. New York: Bowker. p. 42.
^ a b Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Rines, George Edwin".
^ Collison, Robert (1964). Encyclopedias: Their History throughout the
Ages. New York: Hafner.
^ "French Plan to Sell Grolier," PublishersWeekly.com, 11/29/1999;
"Scholastic to Acquire Grolier," press release, Scholastic Inc.,
^ "Scholastic Has Record Year and Begins
PublishersWeekly.com, 7/24/00; "Scholastic Sales Surge Continues,"
PublishersWeekly.com, 1/01/01; "Robinson: Scholastic's Business
Remains Strong," PublishersWeekly.com, 10/01/01; "Sales Dip, Earnings
Rise at Scholastic," PublishersWeekly.com, 7/29/02; "Scholastic Cuts
400 from Global Workforce," PublishersWeekly.com, 6/02/03; "Scholastic
Takes a Charge," PublishersWeekly.com, 7/19/04; "Scholastic Cuts 30
Spots in Library Unit," PublishersWeekly.com, 6/02/05; "Scholastic to
Cut Costs as Profits Fall," PublishersWeekly.com, 12/16/05; "Weak
Results Prompt Closings, Layoffs at Scholastic," PublishersWeekly.com,
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Encyclopedia Americana (1920)
Text and images of the Encyclopaedia Americana 1851 at the University
of Michigan's Making of America site.
Encyclopedia Americana Description from
Complete hyperlinked editions of the 1904 and 1918-20 eds. at the
Online Books Page
The Americana, 1912 – via HathiTrust (fulltext)
Encyclopedia Americana, 1918 – via HathiTrus