Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Encyclopedia

My wife was/is a children's librarian, so we always had two sets of encyclopedias in the house.  We eventually got her down to one, and only recently, none. School libraries would rotate them out when replacing them, so we would tend to have a set that was five years old and another that was ten years old, or some such. When my 39 y/o son was about 9 he had to do a report about nutrition and started with the encyclopedia.* He chuckled at the line "Butter is highly nutritious," as even he knew in 1988 that wasn't right, because of what he had absorbed from his mother's dietary dictates. It became a family joke for years.

Except, as you know, things gradually changed and margarine was exposed as more of a problem than butter, and now, decades later, butter is considered superior again. That son now thinks he might like to have a complete 1911 Britannica, but otherwise, no encyclopedias.

* Tracy insists that starting with the encyclopedia is fine, it just cannot be your main source. She would know.

5 comments:

james said...

We had two sets--The E.B. and the late 50's/early 60's version of "The Book of Knowledge." The latter had indexes you could look things up in, but the articles were all mixed together, not sorted by alphabet or by category. A summary of the Song of Roland might be next to a history of explosives next to an article on trains. The theory was that after looking something up, something else might catch your interest--and something usually did. More recent editions are all alphabetical and boring ...

Donna B. said...

I was 7 years old when my parents bought the World Book Encyclopedia set from a door-to-door salesman. It came with a bookcase and I am still using that bookcase though I have no idea what happened to the encyclopedias. We had recently moved to civilization (electricity! running water! indoor plumbing!) and I was thrilled. I spent a lot of time reading those books. Considering my age, I probably didn't understand a lot of what I read. By the time I was doing reports for school, they were likely outdated on several subjects.

Unknown said...

My house had a 1969 Compton's encyclopedia set. It still resides in my parents house, and as recently as 10 years ago on visits it was not unusual to hear a knock on the door on a Sunday evening (after closing time of the local library) and upon opening it hear a small voice asking "Is it true that you have an encyclopedia? I have an assignment due tomorrow morning. . . "

I have no idea how word got around to neighborhood children and their parents that my parents still had such a resource, but for most elementary-school assignments it was current enough

Texan99 said...

The 1911 EB is terrific. I proofed and formatted a zillion pages of it at Project Gutenberg.

Sam L. said...

We had the Encyclopedia Americana, IIRC. I recall World Books, too.