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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This Explains a Lot (K-Drama Culture)

From the book Culture Shock! Korea, Sonja Vegdahl Hur and Ben Seunghwa Hur, the version I read was published in the 90s.

You are at a party (in Korea) and start up a friendly conversation with a person you have met only a few times. One of the first questions he asks you is why are you not married. You do not wish to answer. What do you do?

A. Explain it is none of his business and walk away asap
B. Joke that there are no partners good enough for you.
C. Lie and say you are already married.
D. Ignore the question and change the subject.
The answer is D.    A would be horribly rude and hurtful.  B might make somebody laugh, but they will also think you are arrogant.  C is obviously a problem if you ever get caught in the lie. You won’t be trusted or well thought of.  D is… well, interesting.  How many times have I yelled at a K-Drama character, “Just answer the question!”
Another tidbit:
When a neighbor or friend drops by, you must offer a drink. They will say no.  A few minutes later, you should offer again, but it doesn’t matter if he says no, you should bring him one anyway. IT doesn’t matter if he likes it or not, you don’t have to ask if he wants cream and sugar, for instance, or prefers coke or sprite. Just serve the drink.  Serving the drink is what matters, not whether or not the guest likes it.
It was acceptable at the time this book was written to touch children to discover their gender.  babies and toddlers might even have their pants opened or pulled down.  That was fine and expats were advised not to freak out.
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Good Reads

Interesting and thoughtful essay on what’s wrong with the current movement to vandalize statues and topple cultural heroes.


Inebriates of Virtiue is an excellent, excellent read.  Here’s a taste:

Yale’s new bureaucracy is called the “Committee on Art in Public Spaces.” Its charge? To police works of art on campus, to make sure that images offensive to favored populations are covered over or removed. At the residential college formerly known as Calhoun, for example, the Committee has removed stained glass windows depicting slaves and other historical scenes of Southern life. Statues and other representations of John C. Calhoun—a distinguished statesman but also an apologist for slavery—have likewise been slotted for the oubliette.

But impermissible attitudes and images are never in short supply once the itch to stamp out heresy gets going. Yesterday, it was Calhoun and representations of the Antebellum South. Today it is a carving at an entrance to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library depicting an Indian and a Puritan. The Puritan, if you can believe it, was holding a musket—a gun! Quoth Susan Gibbons, one of Yale’s librarian-censors: its “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” Why not? Never mind. Solution? Cover over the musket with a cowpat of stone. (But leave the Indian’s bow and arrow alone!)

The New Elite’s Silly Virtue-Signaling Consumption
The Sum of Small Things: A Theory of the Aspirational Class, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, Princeton University Press, 272 pages
By BENJAMIN SCHWARZ • September 14, 2017

“Currid-Halkett convincingly argues that the consumer preferences of today’s elite—be it the approved podcast, TED Talk, or magazine; goat tacos from the farmers market, a five-dollar cup of Intelligentsia Coffee, ceviche at the Oaxacan restaurant in the approved urban enclave, or tuition for the anointed school—are now the primary means by which members of the educated elite establish, reinforce, and signify their identities. In a detailed analysis of the experience of shopping at a Whole Foods supermarket, for instance, she explores the rather stark hypothesis that “for the aspirational class, we are what we eat, drink, and consume more generally.” By creating “an identity and story to which people wish to subscribe,” the store allows members of that class to “consume [their] way to a particular type of persona.” The upshot is that elite consumption—the pursuit of personal gratification—somewhat paradoxically entwines with the pursuit and buttressing of what amounts to a tribal identity.”

I am reminded of the Sheep that Shopping Shaped

I may have posted this before. It’s shorter than the others, an article rather than an essay. It’s about why it’s important to write your notes by hand rather than via keyboard. I find it particularly interesting because you could replace writing here with narration and find the same benefits (so use both!). Writing notes by hand requires you to slow down, process, organize, select, prioritize:

“When we write, a unique neural circuit is automatically activated,” he said. “There is a core recognition of the gesture in the written word, a sort of recognition by mental simulation in your brain, it seems that this circuit is contributing in unique ways we didn’t realize.”

The result?

“Learning is made easier,” he concluded.”

These are longer essays/articles.  If you haven’t got a kindle  (affiliate link) or downloaded a kindle app to your mobile device yet, you should, and then you should use push to kindle to send articles to your e-reader so you can read them offline and anywhere you go.

You could assign these or similar articles to your high school students for reading.  After they read, some possible assignments could be:

  1. Narrate orally.
  2. Set a timer for 5 minutes and write down as much as you can remember as fast as you can.  The next day, organize your thoughts from this exercise into a review of the article (or, if not the next day, a couple days, or even a week later)
  3. Summarize the main point of each paragraph (this is not the time for the student to argue with the points in the article. It’s an exercise in understanding the point, later, when they are sure they understand what the author is saying, they can argue, but understanding must come first).
  4.  Make an outline
  5. Make a simple list of key points.
    Pick one of those points and respond to it in a short essay of your own, or make it the topic of a journal entry.

These are merely suggestions, not requirements, and you probably should not do more than 2, if that many.  You don’t have to assign them to your kids, you could do it yourself.  Or just read, and think.  Thinking should not be optional.


You may also like Isaac Watts on improving the mind through reading.

And you might enjoy Books on Reading.

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Try to keep up

You may have thought, as I most certainly did, that Trump’s tweents about the NFL players were stupid folly and beneath the office of the President, and mostly just sounded ignorant and belligerent. One can think those things and still think the NFL millionairs refusing to stand for the National Anthem because oppression are also smug, self-righteous, hypocrites abusing their popularity for politics. But anyway, whatever I thought about Trump’s NFL tweets, he seems to have been effective.
“Only 11 NFL players did not stand during the national anthem during the first set of games Sunday.

That is a stark contrast from the 180 who kneeled last week, according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell.

He tweeted Sunday afternoon, “Last week, about 180 NFL players didn’t stand for the National Anthem. This week? 11.”

62% of NFL fans say they plan to watch less NFL football because of the protests. If you imagine that won’t happen because football is too popular, well, you could be right. Or you could be ignoring the fact that football was not always the favorite sport. once it was baseball. Once it was boxing. There isn’t any intellectually sound reason to imagine that what has already changed in the recent past (100 years is nothing) can’t change again. Trends and popularity are fickle.

I didn’t vote for Trump. I mostly took his candidacy as a joke. I never believed he’d be elected. But as I listened to the increasinly shrill, divorced from reality, and often libelous and ugly accusations of Trump supporters coming from Never Trumpers, including people I personally know and formerly respected, and then compared them to what actual Trump supporters were doing and saying, I began to have a wee bit of hope for this presidency. People who voted for him weren’t voting for a polished statesman and they knew that. They’ve had their fill of polished statesmen who apologize for America, give billions of dollars away to terrorists, make it possible for Iran to obtain nukes, leave ambassadors to die in Benghazi and then blame a video maker who had nothing to do with it and destroy his life for political cover, weaponize the IRS against their political enemies, and more. They voted for Trump largely because he is *not* politics as usual, and many of them voted for him as a wrecking ball for establishment politicians and politics as usual. So rather than being dismayed and pointing fingers and shouting “see what an idiot he is because he does this!!” – maybe it’s time to notice that ‘this’ is not an indictment of him with the people who elected him, it’s what they wanted. And then go one further and see that even among many of those who did *not* vote for him, his actual effectiveness and success with those irritating and unstatesman-like displays, are, well we’re getting used to it. Combine that with the rabid, over the top, absolutely unbelievable and disgraceful reactions from the never Trumpers and Democrats, and Trump actually looks pretty savvy.

If you thought, and I confess I did, that Trump’s recently public via Twitter fight with the mayor of San Juan over disaster relief for Puerto Rico, remind yourself, as somebody reminded me, to think back to Katrina. The disaster that followed Katrina was largely due to the incompetence of the NO mayor and the LA governor, with a contribution of years of mismanagement of infrastructure by consistently Democratic politicans. But then President Bush was targeted and blamed by a media acting in concert with the Democrat playbook. Bush was presidential. He didn’t defend himself, he didn’t fight back. I admired that, and it seems that today even Democrats who formerly called him Bushitler are coming around – not to respecting his presidency, but at least to respecting how he conducted himself personally. But here’s the thing- it failed. It didn’t stop the false accusations and personal smears, it didn’t help anything. I think Trump talks like an idiot, but I don’t think he actually is one. I think he remembers the Bush presidency as well as anybody else and he knows that however ‘unpresidential’ people may say it is for him to call out the Mayor of San Juan as he has done, it actually does work. People who aren’t personally invested in their Never Trumpism to the point of being unable to be remotely rational on the subject may not like what Trump says or how he says it, but they look it up, and they have to wonder-

Why is the mayor saying people are dying and they can’t get relief when the death toll hasn’t changed from 16, and she’s standing in front hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of pallets of relief?

Why is Paul Krugman claiming there are outbreaks of cholera in PR and getting 8,000 retweets and then admitting that was ‘unconfirmed,’ um, it’s not cholera, it’s pink-eye(!), and the correction doesn’t even rise to 200 retweets?

Why is the Mayor of San Juan claiming she can’t respond to Trump because she has no time for distractions while giving dozens of dozens of press conferences to… complain about Trump.

Puerto Rico has been hit with a horrible natural disaster. But before that, they were hit with an entirely natural disaster of their own making- inept elected leadership.
“Jorge Rodriguez, 49, is the Harvard-educated CEO of PACIV, an international engineering firm based in Puerto Rico that works with the medical and pharmaceutical sectors. The Puerto Rican-born engineer says he has dispatched 50 engineers to help FEMA rehabilitate the devastated island — a commonwealth of the United States — after Hurricane Maria. He refuses to work with the local government, which he called inept and riddled with corruption.

For the last 30 years, the Puerto Rican government has been completely inept at handling regular societal needs, so I just don’t see it functioning in a crisis like this one. Even before the hurricane hit, water and power systems were already broken. And our $118 billion debt crisis is a result of government corruption and mismanagement.”

And when that mayor gives an interview to Anderson Cooper of CNN while she’s wearing a custom designed t-shirt saying ‘help us, we’re dying,’ you have to wonder, where’d she get the shirt? Puerto Rico has no power, yet, she thought that was a good allocation of resources? Or did somebody from CNN bring it along for her?

People elected a wrecking ball, so when they see one, they are not disappointed. It doesn’t seem to be hurting Trump with anybody who matters- that is, people who are really angriest about it are people who would stay home and sit on their hands rather than vote for Trump even if the only alternative actually was Hitler. People who already voted for him don’t mind. People on the fence, somewhat open minded are starting to notice that times have changed and the media is completely unreliable, so their attacks are less and less effective. Actually, this is true even with some never-Trumpers. Just today I’ve seen more than one person saying they really don’t know what’s happening in Puerto Rico, the media is obviously making stuff up and they don’t trust Trump, either, so they don’t know what to think. But that first thing- that’s a huge indictment of the media, but not so much of Trump. People tend not to trust politicians. We know they spin things in their favour, that’s expected. But to move from being netural to ‘the media is obviously making things up and unbelievable’ is, well, huge.

People arguing about tone and statesmenship, well, I’m sympathetic. I wish for more graceful tone and more elegant statesmenship, too. But that isn’t what we have, and it looks to me like it’s not even appropriate for the times in which we live anymore. Stop wishing for something 4 decades old and face what we have now.

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Books Read in September

Dragons of a Fallen Sun, by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, 619 pages long. Egad. Dragons, mages, knights, minotaurs, elves, humans, dwarves, missing moons, missing magic, and dying elves and a strange shield maiden and girl warrior, a Joan of Arc character called Mina.  IT took me about 200 pages to get into this one, and it was sheer force of will and stubborn-ness, and the fact that one of the teachers at the school who I have found a tough nut to crack really likes the series that made me continue.  It’s a trilogy within a trilogy within a series from what I can tell.  And I’m irritated that it’s one of those trilogies that just kind of ends without really resolving much of anything at all so I’ll have to read the next two books if I want to know what happens.  I mostly don’t really care much about any of the characters except the kender.  Kenders are a sort of Puck-like species, mischief makers, lighthearted and light fingered.  I am sure that my lukewarm appreciation for the book has as much to do with my age and the length of the book as anything else.  I mean, it’s not Tolkien, but who is?


How To Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster My favourite chapter was the chapter on how every journey is a quest (except for when it isn’t).  I liked the general ideas, but individual chapters weren’t uniformly successful. The general idea is that writers are readers, and they put a lot of time into their writing, and when you incorporate elements like a disability or type of death (or illness, or, or, or….) you have to keep that going through the rest of your story, so there is usually a reason for it.  He also talks about the need for the reader to also be familiar with fairy tales, myths,legends, Bible stories, and so on and be able to read widely and start to spot patterns and think about them.  I particularly liked his point that while Freud and his whole Oedipus complex and similar theories are probably wrong and no longer widely accepted, he was so influential on our culture that you have to remember even if you think it’s all hogwash, almost every writer from Freud up until the last ten years or so was familiar with Freud and didn’t think he was full of hogwash.  Therefore, they often are incorporating Freudian ideas into their works.  It’s probably not legitimate to read them into works before Freud, however (odd that everybody since Freud sees Hamlet and his mother having inappropriate feelings for one another, but nobody thought so before Freud).   I think it’s a useful book for parents and for college students, but a lot of the illustrations are from books you may never have read.


Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton, (399 pages)  I never saw the movie, and I thought I was going to have to supervise a class where the students were watching this movie for science while their regular teacher is off-island.  I don’t have to supervise that class, which makes me happy.  It was an interesting read.  I see why he was a popular author.  He’s a bit heavy handed on the moralizing and Malcolm the exposition fairy was obviously only there to preach Crichton’s warning to the readers.  I agreed with most of the warning, it was just contrived.  Also, has anybody else read this and gotten the feeling that somewhere, somebody in Crichton’s sphere had a really bratty and obnoxious spoiled brat of a little girl that Crichton wished to torture a bit so he wrote her into the story?  I personally would not have minded if that child had been eaten by the raptors early on, but I guess we needed her to keep causing disasters.

I started a lot more books and didn’t finish them, and I kind of regret forcing myself to finish the 600 page monster about the dragon world.  I wish I’d read something more worthy of my time.

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