The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is a 29-volume reference work that marked the beginning of the Encyclopædia Britannica's transition from a British to an American publication. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of the day. This edition of the encyclopedia is now in the public domain, but the outdated nature of some of its content makes its use as a source for modern scholarship problematic.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.
The 1911 eleventh edition was assembled under the leadership of American publisher Horace Everett Hooper, and edited by Hugh Chisholm. Originally, Hooper purchased the rights to the 25-volume ninth edition and persuaded the British newspaper The Times to issue its reprint, with eleven additional volumes (35 volumes total) as the tenth edition, which appeared 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 give it a more popular tone. American marketing methods also assisted sales. Some 11% of the contributors were American, and a New York office was established to run that side of the enterprise.
The initials of the encyclopedia's contributors appear at the end of each article (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 day, such as Edmund Gosse, J. B. Bury, Algernon Charles Swinburne, John Muir, Peter Kropotkin, T. H. Huxley 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 ninth edition, some with minimal updating, some of the book-length articles divided into smaller parts for easier reference, yet others heavily abridged. The best-known authors generally contributed only a single article or part of an article. Most of the work was done by a mix of journalists, British Museum and other scholars. The 1911 edition for the first time included a number of female contributors, with 34 women contributing articles to the edition.
The eleventh edition introduced a number of changes to 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 type was kept in galleys 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 to break away from the convention of long treatise-length articles. Even though the overall length of the work was roughly the same as its predecessor, the number of articles had increased from 17,000 to 40,000. It was also the first edition of Britannica to contain biographies of living people.
According to Coleman and Simmons, p 32 the content of the encyclopedia was made up as follows:
|Pure and applied science||17%|
In 1922, an additional three volumes were published, covering the events of the intervening years, including the First World War. These, together with a reprint of the eleventh edition, formed the twelfth edition of the work. A similar thirteenth edition, of three volumes plus a reprint of the twelfth edition, was published in 1926, so the twelfth and thirteenth editions were of course closely related to the eleventh edition and shared much of the same content. However, it became increasingly clear that a more thorough update of the work was required.
The fourteenth edition, published in 1929, was considerably revised, with much text dropped or shortened 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 very height, imperialism was largely unchallenged, much of the world was still ruled by monarchs, and the horrors of the modern world wars were still in the future. They are an invaluable resource for topics dropped from modern encyclopedias, particularly in biography and the history of science and technology. As a literary text, the encyclopedia holds value as a voice of early 20th-century prose. For example, it employs literary devices, such as the pathetic fallacy, which are not as common in modern texts.
In 1917, under his 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 found in 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."
Amos Urban Shirk, who read both the entire eleventh and fourteenth editions in the 1930s, 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 Italiana and the Espasa as one of the three greatest encyclopaedias in the world. 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".)
The 1911 edition is no longer restricted by copyright, and it is available in several more modern forms. While it may have been a reliable description of the general consensus of its time, for some modern readers, the Encyclopedia has several glaring 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 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. Distributed Proofreaders are currently working on producing a complete electronic edition of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.
|Internet Archive – Text
|Volume 1||DjVu 1||A||Androphagi|
|Volume 2||DjVu 2||Andros, Sir Edmund||Austria|
|Volume 3||DjVu 3||Austria, Lower||Bisectrix|
|Volume 4||DjVu 4||Bisharin||Calgary|
|Volume 5||DjVu 5||Calhoun, John Caldwell||Chatelaine|
|Volume 6||DjVu 6||Châtelet||Constantine|
|Volume 7||DjVu 7||Constantine Pavlovich||Demidov|
|Volume 8||DjVu 8||Demijohn||Edward the Black Prince|
|Volume 9||DjVu 9||Edwardes, Sir Herbert Benjamin||Evangelical Association|
|Volume 10||DjVu 10||Evangelical Church Conference||Francis Joseph I|
|Volume 11||DjVu 11||Franciscans||Gibson, William Hamilton|
|Volume 12||DjVu 12||Gichtel, Johann Georg||Harmonium|
|Volume 13||DjVu 13||Harmony||Hurstmonceaux|
|Volume 14||DjVu 14||Husband||Italic|
|Volume 15||DjVu 15||Italy||Kyshtym|
|Volume 16||DjVu 16||L||Lord Advocate|
|Volume 17||DjVu 17||Lord Chamberlain||Mecklenburg|
|Volume 18||DjVu 18||Medal||Mumps|
|Volume 19||DjVu 19||Mun, Adrien Albert Marie de||Oddfellows, Order of|
|DjVu 20||Ode||Payment of members|
|Volume 21||DjVu 21||Payn, James||Polka|
|Volume 22||DjVu 22||Poll||Reeves, John Sims|
|Volume 23||DjVu 23||Refectory||Sainte-Beuve, Charles Augustin|
|Volume 24||DjVu 24||Sainte-Claire Deville, Étienne Henri||Shuttle|
|Volume 25||DjVu 25||Shuválov, Peter Andreivich||Subliminal self|
|Volume 26||DjVu 26||Submarine mines||Tom-Tom|
|Volume 27||DjVu 27||Tonalite||Vesuvius|
|Volume 28||DjVu 28||Vetch||Zymotic diseases|
|Volume 29||DjVu 29||Index||List of contributors|
|Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia
As of 19 October 2009
|Volume 2.1.1:||Andros, Sir Edmund||–||Anise|
|Volume 3.1.1:||Austria, Lower||–||Bacon|
|1911 Encyclopædia Britannica||Title page→|
|See also our 1911
Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.
The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. Some of its articles were written by the best-known scholars of its time. The articles are still of value and interest to modern scholars as cultural artifacts of the 19th and early 20th centuries; however, they contain a number of problematic areas for the modern scholar using them as a primary source.
This edition of the Encyclopaedia was published in two forms — the regular quarto size, and a "Handy Volume" edition (pub 1915) in octavo, where the text was photo-reduced. The latter had different preliminaries, but the texts were otherwise identical. They are included here for completeness.
Table of contents
List of volumes