Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition

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The Encyclopaedia Britannica Eleventh Edition is a famous edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain. It is considered one of the most scholarly general encyclopedias ever compiled. Consisting of some 40,000 articles in twenty-eight volumes and an index, it was published in 1910 by the University of Cambridge as "a natural step in the evolution of the university as an educational institution and a home of research." Its aim was to bring "all extant knowledge within the reach of every class of readers."

Previous editions of the encyclopedia suffered from a lack of continuity and integration, due to being compiled and published one volume at a time. For example, the twenty-four volumes of the Ninth Edition appeared over a fifteen-year period from 1875-1889, under two different editors. The Eleventh Edition was planned and written as a whole, allowing the editors to "arrange their material so as to give an organic unity to the whole work and to place all the various subjects under their natural headings, in the form which experience has shown to be the most convenient for a work of universal reference." Its editors called it "a fresh survey of the whole field of human thought and achievement, written by some 1500 eminent specialists drawn from nearly every country of the civilized world, incorporating the results of research and the progress of events up to the middle of 1910." Each article bore the name of its contributor, in the form of initials keyed to a table of biographical information in the front of the volume. A few articles (about 2%) were unsigned.

Present-day availability

Because of its fame, its comprehensive nature and its presence in the public domain, the Eleventh Edition is still in demand as an authoritative source of information from its era. It is available from several sources on the Internet as both page images and text, sometimes with claims of copyright by the providers. At least one publisher offers page images on CDs or DVDs.

The books themselves can sometimes be found in libraries and on the collectible book market, typically selling for $1,000-$3,000 or more if in good condition. The Twelfth Edition, which was a reprint of the Eleventh plus three supplemental volumes dealing with the changes from 1911 to 1922, can be found for $300-$1,000.


Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Volume I, Prefatory Note and Editorial Introduction

External links

Online full-text edition

See also