Au revoir, Encyclopedia Britannica

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We never had a set of Encyclopedia Britannicas in our house growing up, but I certainly used the books in school, and I continue to think of them fondly. By the time I was in college, Encyclopedia Britannica had been put online, and in those pre-Wikipedia days, I accessed it through our university’s ethernet connection. In grad school, my research needs took me beyond encyclopedias, and I haven’t used or thought of Britannica in at least the last eight years.

Today, of course, comes the news that Encyclopedia Britannica is ceasing production of its print edition. It’s kind of a funny milestone, thought I’m still surprised and impressed that the print volumes lasted as long as they did.

Did you ever own, or do you still own, a set of Encyclopedia Britannica?

6 thoughts on “Au revoir, Encyclopedia Britannica

  1. Long ago we had a set from around the turn of the century, i.e. 1900. There were long articles about the recent Franco-Prussian war and how Prussia was becoming a dominant power in Europe. Other articles provided an interesting look at how people saw the world at that time, not knowing what was coming.

    I cried when we moved and didn’t bring them with us ( I was too young to have a say).

  2. We had a set of World Book Encyclopedias in our house (late 80s edition, if I recall correctly). I loved being able to look up anything that occurred to me to look up and reading authoritative information about Mars or spiders or different countries.

    My husband, too, told me his family owned an encyclopedia set and he would spend hours reading his volumes cover to cover. I suppose that’s why he is a fount of knowledge to this day. Perhaps I should have spent more time reading our encyclopedias cover to cover!

    I haven’t thought about encyclopedias for a very long time, but I will miss them for all of their generalized knowledge. And for the nostalgia of lifting one of those heavy books off of the shelf, opening the stiff spine, and immersing myself in the new world contained inside.

  3. My family never owned a set because they were Too Expensive, but I used them extensively at school. I too am sad to see them go. Definitely the end of an era!

  4. Way back in prehistory when I was in grade school, we had a set. The annual updates grew to exceed our storage space and they got donated to the library. What I really miss and had to sell when my parents died and I couldn’t keep their house, was the turn of the century [19th-20th] set of Travelogue Encyclopedias.

    They had pictures of pharoahs in their wrappings as Tut hadn’t been found when they were published. There was a picture of a cave on Vesuvius pre-dating the WWII eruption. Best of all, there were pictures of how Hopi women achieved those pretty side roll hair styles and a series of photos showing a white woman outriding some Native American men while wearing a split riding skirt in a friendly match before the men put on their finery for the photographer. Far more interesting to me than a bunch of dry, soon out of date Britannica articles.

  5. My family had the full set of the 1970 edition. The big brown ones, the red-covered junior version (or kids version), and the slim little small children books. Plus for a couple years afterward we continued to buy the yearbooks, both the regular ones and the science and technology volumes. I only recently had to get rid of them, as they’d been in storage for a long time and when I dug them out they’d been partially consumed by mold. 🙁

  6. Yup! I was shocked to hear they had been in print up until now.

    I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go. The price of printed encyclopedias is/was oppresive.

    I’ll mourn their passing with the same enthusaism I mourned the end of McDonald’s Pizzas. I’m lovin’ it.

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