Encyclopedia Americana

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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, but its lead here has dwindled in recent years under the pressures of electronic publishing. 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 contributors.

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 and that the company was still deciding on the future of print.[1] The company did not produce an edition in 2007, a change from its previous approach of releasing a revised print edition each year.

The online version of the Encyclopedia Americana, first introduced in 1997, continues to be nominally 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 school students. Grolier Online is not available to individual subscribers.


Early history

The Encyclopædia 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 7th ed. of the German Conversations-Lexicon was founded by German-born Francis Lieber. After Dobson's Encyclopædia (1789–1798), it was the first significant American encyclopedia. Although based on Brockhaus' Conversations-Lexikon, it had significant added and rewritten material. Like that work, it was written in an accessible style and intended for general, rather than scholarly use.

The first edition comprised 13 volumes and was published between 1829 and 1833 by Carey, Lea & Carey of Philadelphia; in 1846, a supplementary fourteenth volume was issued. Later editions and reprints were published, to considerable acclaim, through 1858. In 1848, John Sutter used the set to verify the authenticity of the gold found in his mill, a discovery that would start the California Gold Rush.[2]

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