The Society's collection of encyclopedias includes more than sixty complete sets, amounting to over 850 volumes. Over thirty different titles are represented. While these titles include several works from abroad and from the seventeenth and twentieth centuries, the collection focuses on nineteenth-century American imprints. Editions published before 1821 are considered part of the Dated Books collection and are accessible online catalog.
The collection includes not only voluminous, general encyclopedias such as those compiled by Thomas Dobson, Abraham Rees, and Francis Lieber, but also brief, specialized works such as the Encyclopedia of Wit (Philadelphia, 1817) and Every Man's Mine of Useful Knowledge (Montreal, 1871). Because encyclopedias have been continually revised and updated, many titles have been collected in multiple editions. For example, the Society's four different editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica span the period from 1771 to 1926. Such holdings illuminate changes in scholarship and book production. Encyclopedias published before 1841 have been cataloged online; the readers' services staff should be consulted access to the remainder of the collection.
- Caroline Stoffel, Online Services Librarian