Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition

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Encyclopædia Britannica, the eleventh edition

The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–11) is a 29-volume reference work, an edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica . It was developed during the encyclopaedia's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time. This edition of the encyclopedia, containing 40,000 entries, is now in the public domain, and many of its articles have been used as a basis for articles in Wikipedia. [1] However, the outdated nature of some of its content makes its use as a source for modern scholarship problematic. Some articles have special value and interest to modern scholars as cultural artifacts of the 19th and early 20th centuries.



Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition

The 1911 eleventh edition was assembled with the management of American publisher Horace Everett Hooper. Hugh Chisholm, who had edited the previous edition, was appointed editor in chief, with Walter Alison Phillips as his principal assistant editor. [2]

Originally, Hooper bought the rights to the 25-volume 9th edition and persuaded the British newspaper The Times to issue its reprint, with eleven additional volumes (35 volumes total) as the tenth edition, which was published in 1902. Hooper's association with The Times ceased in 1909, and he negotiated with the Cambridge University Press to publish the 29-volume eleventh edition. Though it is generally perceived as a quintessentially British work, the eleventh edition had substantial American influences, not only in the increased amount of American and Canadian content, but also in the efforts made to make it more popular.[ citation needed ] American marketing methods also assisted sales. Some 14% of the contributors (214 of 1507) were from North America, and a New York office was established to coordinate their work. [3]

The initials of the encyclopedia's contributors appear at the end of selected articles or at the end of a section in the case of longer articles, such as that on China, and a key is given in each volume to these initials. Some articles were written by the best-known scholars of the time, such as Edmund Gosse, J. B. Bury, Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir, Peter Kropotkin, T. H. Huxley, James Hopwood Jeans and William Michael Rossetti. Among the then lesser-known contributors were some who would later become distinguished, such as Ernest Rutherford and Bertrand Russell. Many articles were carried over from the 9th edition, some with minimal updating. Some of the book-length articles were divided into smaller parts for easier reference, yet others much abridged. The best-known authors generally contributed only a single article or part of an article. Most of the work was done by journalists, British Museum scholars and other scholars. The 1911 edition was the first edition of the encyclopædia to include more than just a handful of female contributors, with 34 women contributing articles to the edition. [4]

The eleventh edition introduced a number of changes of the format of the Britannica. It was the first to be published complete, instead of the previous method of volumes being released as they were ready. The print type was kept in galley proofs and subject to continual updating until publication. It was the first edition of Britannica to be issued with a comprehensive index volume in which was added a categorical index, where like topics were listed. It was the first not to include long treatise-length articles. Even though the overall length of the work was about the same as that of its predecessor, the number of articles had increased from 17,000 to 40,000. It was also the first edition of Britannica to include biographies of living people. Sixteen maps of the famous 9th edition of Stielers Handatlas were exclusively translated to English, converted to Imperial units, printed in Gotha, Germany by Justus Perthes and became part this edition. Later editions only included Perthes' great maps as low quality reproductions. [5]

According to Coleman and Simmons, [6] the content of the encyclopedia was distributed as follows:

Geography 29%
Pure and applied science 17%
History 17%
Fine art 9%
Social science 7%
Psychology 1.7%

Hooper sold the rights to Sears Roebuck of Chicago in 1920, completing the Britannica's transition to becoming a substantially American publication. [7] In 1922, an additional three volumes (also edited by Hugh Chisholm), were published, covering the events of the intervening years, including World War I. These, together with a reprint of the eleventh edition, formed the twelfth edition of the work. A similar thirteenth edition, consisting of three volumes plus a reprint of the twelfth edition, was published in 1926, so the twelfth and thirteenth editions were closely related to the eleventh edition and shared much of the same content. However, it became increasingly apparent that a more thorough update of the work was required.

The fourteenth edition, published in 1929, was considerably revised, with much text eliminated or abridged to make room for new topics. Nevertheless, the eleventh edition was the basis of every later version of the Encyclopædia Britannica until the completely new fifteenth edition was published in 1974, using modern information presentation.

The eleventh edition's articles are still of value and interest to modern readers and scholars, especially as a cultural artifact: the British Empire was at its maximum, imperialism was largely unchallenged, much of the world was still ruled by monarchs, and the tragedy of the modern world wars was still in the future. They are an invaluable resource for topics omitted from modern encyclopedias, particularly for biography and the history of science and technology. As a literary text, the encyclopedia has value as an example of early 20th-century prose. For example, it employs literary devices, such as pathetic fallacy (attribution of human-like traits to impersonal forces or inanimate objects), which are not as common in modern reference texts. [6]

Notable commentary on the Eleventh Edition

1913 advertisement for the eleventh edition

In 1917, using the pseudonym of S. S. Van Dine, the US art critic and author Willard Huntington Wright published Misinforming a Nation , a 200+ page criticism of inaccuracies and biases of the Encyclopædia Britannica eleventh edition. Wright claimed that Britannica was "characterized by misstatement, inexcusable omissions, rabid and patriotic prejudices, personal animosities, blatant errors of fact, scholastic ignorance, gross neglect of non-British culture, an astounding egotism, and an undisguised contempt for American progress". [8]

Amos Urban Shirk, known for having read the eleventh and fourteenth editions in their entirety, said he found the fourteenth edition to be a "big improvement" over the eleventh, stating that "most of the material had been completely rewritten".

Robert Collison, in Encyclopaedias: Their History Throughout The Ages (1966), wrote of the eleventh edition that it "was probably the finest edition of the Britannica ever issued, and it ranks with the Enciclopedia Italiana and the Espasa as one of the three greatest encyclopaedias. It was the last edition to be produced almost in its entirety in Britain, and its position in time as a summary of the world's knowledge just before the outbreak of World War I is particularly valuable".

Sir Kenneth Clark, in Another Part of the Wood (1974), wrote of the eleventh edition, "One leaps from one subject to another, fascinated as much by the play of mind and the idiosyncrasies of their authors as by the facts and dates. It must be the last encyclopaedia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly coloured by prejudice. When T. S. Eliot wrote 'Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopædia Britannica,' he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition." (Clark refers to Eliot's 1929 poem "Animula".) It was one of Jorge Luis Borges's favorite works, and was a source of information and enjoyment for his entire working life. [9]

In 1912, mathematician L. C. Karpinski criticised the eleventh edition for inaccuracies in articles on the history of mathematics, none of which had been written by specialists. [10]

English writer and former priest Joseph McCabe claimed in Lies and Fallacies of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1947) that Britannica was censored under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church after the 11th edition. [11]

Authorities ranging from Virginia Woolf to professors criticised the 11th edition for having bourgeois and old-fashioned opinions on art, literature, and social sciences. [4] A contemporary Cornell professor, Edward B. Titchener, wrote in 1912, "the new Britannica does not reproduce the psychological atmosphere of its day and generation... Despite the halo of authority, and despite the scrutiny of the staff, the great bulk of the secondary articles in general psychology ... are not adapted to the requirements of the intelligent reader". [12]

Critics have charged several editions with racism and sexism. [4] [13] The eleventh edition characterises the Ku Klux Klan as protecting the white race and restoring order to the American South after the American Civil War, citing the need to "control the negro", and "the frequent occurrence of the crime of rape by negro men upon white women". [14] [15] Similarly, the "Civilization" article argues for eugenics, stating that it is irrational to "propagate low orders of intelligence, to feed the ranks of paupers, defectives and criminals ... which to-day constitute so threatening an obstacle to racial progress". [16] The eleventh edition has no biography of Marie Curie, despite her winning of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911, although she is mentioned briefly under the biography of her husband Pierre Curie. [17] The Britannica employed a large female editorial staff that wrote hundreds of articles for which they were not given credit. [4]

1911 Britannica in the 21st century

The 1911 edition is no longer restricted by copyright, and it is therefore available in several more modern forms. While it may once have been a reliable description of the consensus of its time, many modern readers find fault with the Encyclopedia for several major errors, ethnocentric remarks, and other issues:

The eleventh edition of Encyclopædia Britannica has become a commonly quoted source, both because of the reputation of the Britannica and because it is now in the public domain and has been made available on the Internet. It has been used as a source by many modern projects, including Wikipedia and the Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia.

Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia

The Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia is the eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, renamed to address Britannica's trademark concerns. Project Gutenberg's offerings are summarized below in the External links section and include text and graphics. As of 2018, Distributed Proofreaders are working on producing a complete electronic edition of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

See also


  1. Boyles, Denis (2016). Everything Explained That Is Explainable: On the Creation of the Encyclopaedia Britannica's Celebrated Eleventh Edition, 1910-1911. Knopf. pp. xi–x. ISBN   9780307269171.
  2. S. Padraig Walsh, Anglo-American general encyclopedias: a historical bibliography (1968), p. 49
  3. Boyles (2016), p. 242.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Thomas, Gillian (1992). A Position to Command Respect: Women and the Eleventh Britannica. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press. ISBN   0-8108-2567-8.
  5. Wolfgang Lierz: Karten aus Stielers Hand-Atlas in der „Encyclopaedia Britannica“. In: Cartographica Helvetica. Heft 29, 2004, ISSN   1015-8480, S. 27–34 online Archived 2016-07-29 at the Wayback Machine ..
  6. 1 2 All There is to Know (1994), edited by Alexander Coleman and Charles Simmons. Subtitled: "Readings from the Illustrious Eleventh Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica". p. 32. ISBN   0-671-76747-X
  7. "Encyclopædia Britannica - Eleventh edition and its supplements | English language reference work" . Retrieved 2016-08-29.
  8. Misinforming a Nation. 1917. Chapter 1 .
  9. Woodall, James (1996). Borges: A Life. New York: BasicBooks. p. 76. ISBN   0-465-04361-5.
  10. Karpinski, L. C. (1912). "History of Mathematics in the Recent Edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica". Science. 35 (888): 29–31. Bibcode:1912Sci....35...29K. doi:10.1126/science.35.888.29. PMID   17752897.
  11. McCabe, J (1947). Lies and Fallacies of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Haldeman-Julius. ASIN B0007FFJF4. Retrieved 2011-06-30.
  12. Titchener, EB (1912). "The Psychology of the new 'Britannica'". American Journal of Psychology. University of Illinois Press. 23 (1): 37–58. doi:10.2307/1413113. JSTOR   1413113.
  13. Chalmers, F. Graeme (1992). "The Origins of Racism in the Public School Art Curriculum". Studies in Art Education. 33 (3): 134–143. doi:10.2307/1320895. JSTOR   1320895.
  14. Wikisource  Fleming, Walter Lynwood (1911). "Lynch Law". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  15. Wikisource  Fleming, Walter Lynwood (1911). "Ku Klux Klan". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  16. Wikisource  Williams, Henry Smith (1911). "Civilization". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  17. Wikisource Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Curie, Pierre". Encyclopædia Britannica . 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 644.
  18. Wikisource  Joyce, Thomas Athol (1911). "Negro". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica . 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 344.
  19. Wikisource  Hannay, David (1911). "American War of Independence". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica . 1 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 845.

Further reading

Free, public-domain sources for 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica text

Internet Archive – Text Archives
Individual Volumes
Volume 1 AAndrophagi
Volume 2 Andros, Sir EdmundAustria
Volume 3 Austria, LowerBisectrix
Volume 4 BisharinCalgary
Volume 5 Calhoun, John CaldwellChatelaine
Volume 6 ChâteletConstantine
Volume 7 Constantine PavlovichDemidov
Volume 8 DemijohnEdward the Black Prince
Volume 9 Edwardes, Sir Herbert BenjaminEvangelical Association
Volume 10 Evangelical Church ConferenceFrancis Joseph I
Volume 11 FranciscansGibson, William Hamilton
Volume 12 Gichtel, Johann GeorgHarmonium
Volume 13 HarmonyHurstmonceaux
Volume 14 HusbandItalic
Volume 15 ItalyKyshtym
Volume 16 LLord Advocate
Volume 17 Lord ChamberlainMecklenburg
Volume 18 MedalMumps
Volume 19 Mun, Adrien Albert Marie deOddfellows, Order of
Volume 20 OdePayment of members
Volume 21 Payn, JamesPolka
Volume 22 PollReeves, John Sims
Volume 23 RefectorySainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin
Volume 24 Sainte-Claire Deville, Étienne HenriShuttle
Volume 25 Shuválov, Peter AndreivichSubliminal self
Volume 26 Submarine minesTom-Tom
Volume 27 TonaliteVesuvius
Volume 28 VetchZymotic diseases
Volume 29 IndexList of contributors
Volume 1 of 1922 supp AbbeEnglish History
Volume 2 of 1922 supp English LiteratureOyama, Iwao
Volume 3 of 1922 supp Pacific Ocean IslandsZuloaga
Reader's Guide – 1913
Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia
As of 16 December 2014
Volume 1:  A  Androphagi
Volume 2.1:  Andros, Sir Edmund  Anise
Volume 2.2:  Anjar  Apollo
Volume 2.3:  Apollodorus  Aral
Volume 2.4:  Aram, Eugene  Arcueil
Volume 2.5:  Arculf  Armour, Philip
Volume 2.6:  Armour Plates  Arundel, Earls of
Volume 2.7:  Arundel, Thomas  Athens
Volume 2.8:  Atherstone  Austria
Volume 3.1:  Austria, Lower  Bacon
Volume 3.2:  Baconthorpe  Bankruptcy
Volume 3.3:  Banks  Bassoon
Volume 3.4:  Basso-relievo  Bedfordshire
Volume 3.5:  Bedlam  Benson, George
Volume 3.6:  Bent, James  Bibirine
Volume 3.7:  Bible  Bisectrix
Volume 4.1:  Bisharin  Bohea
Volume 4.2:  Bohemia  Borgia, Francis
Volume 4.3:  Borgia, Lucrezia  Bradford, John
Volume 4.4:  Bradford, William  Brequigny, Louis
Volume 4.5:  Bréquigny  Bulgaria
Volume 4.6:  Bulgaria  Calgary
Volume 5.1:  Calhoun  Camoens
Volume 5.2:  Camorra  Cape Colony
Volume 5.3:  Capefigue  Carneades
Volume 5.4:  Carnegie, Andrew  Casus Belli
Volume 5.5:  Cat  Celt
Volume 5.6:  Celtes, Konrad  Ceramics
Volume 5.7:  Cerargyrite  Charing Cross
Volume 5.8:  Chariot  Chatelaine
Volume 6.1:  Châtelet  Chicago
Volume 6.2:  Chicago, University of  Chiton
Volume 6.3:  Chitral  Cincinnati
Volume 6.4:  Cincinnatus  Cleruchy
Volume 6.5:  Clervaux  Cockade
Volume 6.6:  Cockaigne  Columbus, Christopher
Volume 6.7:  Columbus  Condottiere
Volume 6.8:  Conduction, Electric  
Volume 7.1:  Prependix  
Volume 7.2:  Constantine Pavlovich  Convention
Volume 7.3:  Convention  Copyright
Volume 7.4:  Coquelin  Costume
Volume 7.5:  Cosway  Coucy
Volume 7.6:  Coucy-le-Château  Crocodile
Volume 7.7:  Crocoite  Cuba
Volume 7.8:  Cube  Daguerre, Louis
Volume 7.9:  Dagupan  David
Volume 7.10:  David, St  Demidov
Volume 8.2:  Demijohn  Destructor
Volume 8.3:  Destructors  Diameter
Volume 8.4:  Diameter  Dinarchus
Volume 8.5:  Dinard  Dodsworth
Volume 8.6:  Dodwell  Drama
Volume 8.7:  Drama  Dublin
Volume 8.8:  Dubner  Dyeing
Volume 8.9:  Dyer  Echidna
Volume 8.10:  Echinoderma  Edward
Volume 9.1:  Edwardes  Ehrenbreitstein
Volume 9.2:  Ehud  Electroscope
Volume 9.3:  Electrostatics  Engis
Volume 9.4:  England  English Finance
Volume 9.5:  English History  
Volume 9.6:  English Language  Epsom Salts
Volume 9.7:  Equation  Ethics
Volume 9.8:  Ethiopia  Evangelical Association
Volume 10.1:  Evangelical Church Conference  Fairbairn, Sir William
Volume 10.2:  Fairbanks, Erastus  Fens
Volume 10.3:  Fenton, Edward  Finistère
Volume 10.4:  Finland  Fleury, Andre
Volume 10.5:  Fleury, Claude  Foraker, Joseph Henson
Volume 10.6:  Foraminifera  Fox, Edward
Volume 10.7:  Fox, George  France[p.775-p.894]
Volume 10.8:  France[p.895-p.929]  Francis Joseph I.
Volume 11.1:  Franciscians  French Language
Volume 11.2:  French Literature  Frost, William
Volume 11.3:  Frost  Fyzabad
Volume 11.4:  G  Gaskell, Elizabeth
Volume 11.5:  Gassendi, Pierre  Geocentric
Volume 11.6:  Geodesy  Geometry
Volume 11.7:  Geoponici  Germany[p.804-p.840]
Volume 11.8:  Germany[p.841-p.901]  Gibson, William
Volume 12.1:  Gichtel, Johann  Glory
Volume 12.2:  Gloss  Gordon, Charles George
Volume 12.3:  Gordon, Lord George  Grasses
Volume 12.4:  Grasshopper  Greek Language
Volume 12.5:  Greek Law  Ground-Squirrel
Volume 12.6:  Groups, Theory of  Gwyniad
Volume 12.7:  Gyantse  Hallel
Volume 12.8:  Haller, Albrecht  Harmonium
Volume 13.1:  Harmony  Heanor
Volume 13.2:  Hearing  Helmond
Volume 13.3:  Helmont, Jean  Hernosand
Volume 13.4:  Hero  Hindu Chronology
Volume 13.5:  Hinduism  Home, Earls of
Volume 13.6:  Home, Daniel  Hortensius, Quintus
Volume 13.7:  Horticulture  Hudson Bay
Volume 13.8:  Hudson River  Hurstmonceaux
Volume 14.1:  Husband  Hydrolysis
Volume 14.2:  Hydromechanics  Ichnography
Volume 14.3:  Ichthyology  Independence
Volume 14.4:  Independence, Declaration of  Indo-European Languages
Volume 14.5:  Indole  Insanity
Volume 14.6:  Inscriptions  Ireland, William Henry
Volume 14.7:  Ireland  Isabey, Jean Baptiste
Volume 14.8:  Isabnormal Lines  Italic
Volume 15.1:  Italy  Jacobite Church
Volume 15.2:  Jacobites  Japan (part)
Volume 15.3:  Japan (part)  Jeveros
Volume 15.4:  Jevons, Stanley  Joint
Volume 15.5:  Joints  Justinian I.
Volume 15.6:  Justinian II.  Kells
Volume 15.7:  Kelly, Edward  Kite
Volume 15.8:  Kite-flying  Kyshtym
Volume 16.1:  L  Lamellibranchia
Volume 16.2:  Lamennais, Robert de  Latini, Brunetto
Volume 16.3:  Latin Language  Lefebvre, Pierre François Joseph
Volume 16.4:  Lefebvre, Tanneguy  Letronne, Jean Antoine
Volume 16.5:  Letter  Lightfoot, John
Volume 16.6:  Lightfoot, Joseph Barber  Liquidation
Volume 16.7:  Liquid Gases  Logar
Volume 16.8:  Logarithm  Lord Advocate
Volume 17.1:  Lord Chamberlain  Luqmān
Volume 17.2:  Luray Cavern  Mackinac Island
Volume 17.3:  McKinley, William  Magnetism, Terrestrial
Volume 17.4:  Magnetite  Malt
Volume 17.5:  Malta  Map, Walter
Volume 17.6:  Map  Mars
Volume 17.7:  Mars  Matteawan
Volume 17.8:  Matter  Mecklenburg

Other sources for 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica text

The preceding links adopt the spellings used in the target.