Using the 1911 Enclopedia Britannica in a Course of Study
“Search over 40,000 articles from four encyclopedias, including the original, classic Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition.


The 1911 and 1889 versions of Encyclopedia Britannica are published here as a community project where anybody can edit/correct articles and add comments about the original encyclopedia articles. Thousands of corrections have already been posted and hundreds of user comments have been published. Thank you for your support and contributions.

This Online Encyclopedia was originally based on the 11th Edition Encyclopedia Britannica, first published in 1911. This historically significant reference work is, arguably, the last general encyclopedia to offer articles in such extreme depth. Over 320 historians, 250 ministers, and many diplomats, theologians, scientists, and government officials from around the world personally wrote this encyclopedia’s articles, totaling more than 44 million words!

Read more: Online 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

You might enjoy skimming through one of the courses of study recommended in this supplemental volume to the Enclopedia Britannica, published in 1911:

The plan has been to direct each individual how to draw from this great storehouse of knowledge that which will cover with all desirable completeness the line of work in which he is most interested, thus assisting him in the knowledge of his particular business, and aiding him in its prosecution.

It being recognized that the Britannica contains a great deal of interesting and profitable matter for boys and girls, the first part of this GUIDE is directed to young people. By the aid of brief but graphic text and copious references, the youth is led along pleasant avenues of research, and thus aided in acquiring a habit of reading and of investigation that will continue through life, and add largely to his chances of success.

The second part is especially designed for students. The scholar who is desirous of some means whereby to supplement the work of the school or the college, will find here the very thing that he is seeking. The earnest, ambitious young man or young woman who is being self-educated, because unable to secure the aid of instructors, will find here a teacher that will point the way to the acquirement of a thorough knowledge of almost every branch of science or art. Numerous courses of study are outlined, which may be pursued independent of schools; many profitable lines of research are suggested, and the best ways of obtaining a fund of general information are pointed out.

The fact that fifty-two text-books used in our leading colleges and universities have been drawn from the Britannica emphasizes its value to students.

Through our excellent system of common schools, every boy or girl in the land is furnished with the rudiments of an education. But in the school, the child is only started on the way ; the best that can be done is to provide him with a few essentials, and give him some slight impetus that will keep him moving on in the right direction. If he continues his studies beyond the public schools, he may be conducted a little farther — but it is only a little. No one’s education was ever finished in a university. We are all, to a greater or less degree, self-educated. A great deal of what the schools have foisted on us as knowledge has proved to be worthless to us, and is allowed to drop from our minds as soon as we are left to ourselves. The better part of our education is that which we acquire independently — through reading, through observation, through intercourse with others — -an ever increasing stock of what is called general information. It is the aim of this GUIDE to help, not only students, but everybody else, to gather this information in an orderly way, without unnecessary expenditure of time and labor.

The third part of this volume is devoted to the busy world at large. Its object is to help the busy man, no matter what his business may be, to pick out from the Encyclopedia Britannica just that kind of information that

will be of the greatest value to him in his calling. There is hardly a trade, industry, or profession in the civilized world that is not noticed somewhere in this department. A mere glance at the various chapters will indicate their practical value.

On the whole, it is confidently believed that the plan of using the Encyclopedia Britannica, as presented in this GUIDE, will fill a gap and perform an important service in our system of education. It should be a very material aid. not only to those whose schooldays have been of limited duration, and who wish to continue their studies without the guidance of a teacher, but to people of every class and condition in life — to students, merchants, farmers, mechanics, housekeepers, and professional men of all sorts. It should enable boys, girls, men, women, and whole families to spend their leisure hours pleasantly and profitably with the great Encyclopedia, thus realizing one of its most important aims by making it the most powerful aid to home culture or self-education that the world has ever known.



THREE COURSES OF READING IN HISTORY. ” History is philosophy teaching by examples.”Bolingbroke.

The entire history of man, from the earliest times to the present, will be found in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Many of the articles on historical subjects are chiefly valuable for purposes of reference, while others are extremely interesting when read in course, and if taken up and studied systematically will give to the student a mastery of the subject which he could not well acquire from any similar work.

It is proposed in this chapter to indicate three distinct courses of reading, any one of which can be pursued independently of the others. In laying out these courses the aim has been to select from the great abundance of material in the Britannica such portions as are essential to an understanding of the march of events, and to pass lightly over those periods of history which have been unprolific of events of general and permanent interest.


In indicating the following course of reading, an attempt will be made to cover all the more important periods of ancient history, and at the same time not to mark out more than can be mastered within a reasonable length of time. It is possible that the reader will enlarge it at many points by reading entire articles, of which only parts are here indicated; but, whether he does this or not, In: should find himself at the end of the course possessed of a good general knowledge of ancient history, of its leading characters, and its more interesting Oriental scenes and incidents.


This course of reading embraces in the aggregate about 150 pages of the Britannica. By reading an hour or so

regularly every evening, one may complete it in a short time ; and there is no doubt but that the reader will obtain from it a far more satisfactory view of ancient history than can be gained from any of the so-called ” Universal Histories.” The reason is obvious. Here the subject is presented as in a painting, with a distinct background, and the foreground appropriately filled with lifelike figures. It is no mere catalogue of events that you have been studying ; it is history itself.


Mohammadan Empire  The first part of the article, Mohammedanism, XVI. 545, relates the story of Mohammed and the first four caliphs. Read this part carefully. Then proceed to .the second part, XVI. The Arab 55, which gives an account of Moslem Conquest, quest and dominion down to the capture of Baghdad by Jenghis Khan, A. D. 1258. The most important event for us during this latter period is the conquest of Spain, a full account of which may be found in the article SPAIN, XXII. 3 1 2-3 1 5.

Continental Europe from a. d. 476 to a. d. 1454. A. D. ” The period of ten centuries which intervened between the fall of the Western Empire and the capture of Constantinople by the Turks may be briefly studied. The Franks invade Gaul, IX. 528; the Goths and Lombards establish themselves in Italy, XIII. 467; the Visigoths gain

control of Spain, XXII. 308; anew empire is established by CHARLEMAGNE, V. 402. This brings us to the year 814. From this point to the close of the period only a few events need be noticed. The rise of the feudal monarchy in France, IX. 536; the Hapsburg dynasty, X. 491, and III. 124; the house of Brandenburg in Germany, XX. 4. Now read the account of the Hundred Years’ War between France and England, IX. 545-551. This prepares us for the study of the article on Feudalism, IX. 119, and the various notices of CHIVALRY indicated in the Index volume, page 96.

The chief events of this period are connected with the Crusades, which are the subject of an interesting and important article, VI. 622. In connection with the above-named articles there is room for a good deal of collateral reading. Study the following articles…


It could be an interesting and instructive exercise to choose a handful of articles from the 1911 encyclopedia and compare and contrast them with information on the same topic in Wikipedia and a recent print encylopedia.

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