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Wed Jul 17 2002 at 23:33:36 (15.2 years ago )
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presenting archaic encyclopedia definitions
the sum of Western knowledge, circa 1912
Syndicate Publishing Company, New York
Old reference books: A great entertainment value!
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Russian Expansion in the 19th Century
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A concise and accurate compilation of the world's knowledge, prepared from the latest and best authorities in every department of learning; including a

Chronological History of the World

graphically represented by colored charts, showing the most important epochs and events of history, from the earliest times to the present day.

And A Treasury of Facts

containing much valuable information often in demand, but not usually found in a single collection. Also

A Statistical Record of the World

which includes latest figures from the recent United States Census.

P R E P A R E D   U N D E R   T H E   D I R E C T I O N   O F

of the New International, Americana,
Britannica, Current Cyclopedia, etc.

Special Expert on the International,
People's, Imperial, etc.

E D I T O R S - I N - C H I E F
Assisted by a corps of eminent editors, educators, scientists,
inventors, explorers, etc.

N e w   Y o r k


12 and 14 West 32d Street


For an encyclopedia to attain the dignity of a standard work of reference, and to maintain that position, certain distinctive features are essential. The chief of these, outside variety of topics and accuracy, are independence, originality, progressiveness, convenience, lucidity, and brevity.

Independence and originality cannot be acquired without departing from the old-time methods of pedantic Latinity, unfamiliar scientific and technical terms, and diffusiveness, which, even in modern times, still seek to make knowledge the prerogative of a privileged class. Progressiveness is obtained by adopting up-to-date methods of organization, preparation, and production, and employing the ingenious principle of the expansive card-index, so that the latest data may be added until the very day of printing each edition. Convenience is found in the concise disposition of matter, and its arrangement in the form of compact volumes, of handy size for ready reference, in place of large and clumsy volumes, inconvenient to handle on account of their size and weight, which are by many supposed to represent the correct style for all encyclopedic works of reference. Lucidity and brevity are attained by the development, through the patient and laborious work of editors and compilers, of the fine and difficult art of condensation, in which the constant aim is to synthesize or crystallize the ever-growing mass of ancient and modern information into the concrete and attractive form of "race knowledge." This term was introduced by Professor Patton, of Princeton University, to distinguish the sifted and verified knowledge of a subject useful to the whole world from the detailed knowledge required by specialist or expert, and indicates a simple and concise handling which, while meeting all reasonable demands of scholarship, brings the profoundest learning within the comprehension of any attentive or thoughtful mind.

Since the beginning of the twentieth century there has been enormous activity among the publishers of leading nations to produce new encyclopedias, with the purpose of presenting the whole range of universal information according to modern standards and requirements, and of exhibiting the wonderful progress made in all departments of human knowledge and endeavor during the last quarter of a century. Praiseworthy arrangements were formulated to embody in these works the qualities enumerated above as essential to the production of a standard work of reference. But, without exception, whether American or European, these remain in great part revised editions of old encyclopædias. In the American works, all based on European models, old matter, bodily lifted from the editions of preceding centuries, appears instead of a modern presentation of the subject; while even in the new matter supplied, all the old defects of elaborate and diffuse treatises, adapted only for the use of specialists, experts, or professional men, are retained along with the inconvenience of bulky form, to which the present small, handy volumes afford a delightful contrast.

In the making and distribution of encyclopædias, the need of a popular reference work of more compact form than those in ordinary use was made strikingly apparent both to editor and publishers, by the thousands of questions poured daily into the offices of magazines and journals, which, by arrangement, were referred to the encyclopædists for reply. In the majority of instances, the answers could have been found by reference to the venerable and ponderous types of encyclopædias. But these, wherever possessed, apparently had been relegated to the repose of library shelves, after the novelty of possession had worn off, while the trouble attendant on disturbing them for research was, apparently, greater than the slight inconvenience caused by writing and waiting for a brief answer to a simple question.

Under these circumstances, the conviction grew that a more convenient form of reference work was necessary for ordinary use, one which, if kept in the home on the reading-table, in the student's room on a handy shelf, or in the office or store on the work-desk, would become an indispensible and authoritative source of the information needed in connection with the current news of every-day life.

The ordinary skip method of reading newspapers, magazines, etc., is not conducive to self-culture, unless the reader is accustomed to regard this reading as a test of ignorance or knowledge. Then it becomes of inestimable service. Every day interesting information is given about places and subjects of which most people know very little and remember less from the knowledge acquired in school days. But a ready dip into a convenient reference work will put one in possession of the necessary information, and if the knowledge is acquired at the time when the subject is a topic of general discussion, it is likely to be permanently retained.

The "reference habit" is one of the most delightful and profitable that can be inculcated in young persons or cultivated by men and women for the worthy purpose of extending education throughout the whole of adult life. The more convenient the form of reference work at hand, the oftener it will be used, and when this can be done with the least possible waste of time, the reference habit frequently changes the whole mental attitude, transforming an ordinary into a well-informed person.

With the conviction fully confirmed that such a convenient work of reference was urgently needed, the publishers, after mature deliberation, decided upon a striking departure and a revolution in the ordinary methods of encyclopedia making. Adopting a novel and original plan which would allow them to make use of the latest sources of information right up to the date of publication, they determined to build a work which should present the modern, solid, alive, and up-to-date American view of everything worth knowing in the fewest possible words; a work for the use of students and others which would fit them to take part in the conversation or enjoy the society of any well-informed circle.

The result, as embodied in the present work, exhibits the truly American characteristic of the exact knowledge sought; giving the pith of each subject, the essential facts, condensed to the plainest terms consistent with accuracy and clearness, and presented in a convenient form for ready reference. The salient features of each topic treated and its modern aspect follow the title and impress themselves at once upon eye and mind. Nothing of value is omitted. The old, stereotyped, pompous, so-called encyclopedic style gives way to a bright, modern presentment of knowledge and facts. Without needless wading through a mass of words, the reader immediately grasps the knowledge sought. Every subject is condensed or distilled to an essence of crystal clearness, in order to secure the compact and convenient size aimed at. Moreover, this plan of condensation or crystallization has allowed the inclusion of a greater number of titles than are to be found in the larger works or reference, for over 150,000 separate titles will be found in the various sections of this work, as compared with the 50,000 or 60,000 subjects in the ordinary encyclopedias.

The publishers have also aimed at making the work doubly attractive by reason of its illustrations. Text-cuts, half-tones and artistic three-color page plates, considerably beyond the plane of the average encyclopædic illustrations, contribute largely to a full understanding of the crisp descriptive matter. Special attention was also directed towards providing a clear type, easy for reading and restful to the eyes, instead of the small, fatiguing, eye-straining type, so frequently complained of in the larger forms of encyclopædic dictionaries.

The whole work, modern in conception and treatment, accurate, clear, concise, and up-to-date in a thoroughly practical sense, is a standard, ideal reference library, providing a short cut to all knowledge. No work on a similar scale of convenience has been attempted hitherto, and the publishers, gratified by its comprehensive scope and reliability, feel confident that its compact form will make it, though small, a powerful rival for preferential and general use in school, home, store, or office, over the larger types of encyclopædias, gazetteers, or dictionaries.

The editor and publishers take the opportunity here to acknowledge their indebtedness to the contributors whose names appear on the title-page and appended to articles in the work.

They also extend their thanks to chief clerks and statisticians, to E. Dana Durand, Director of the Thirteenth Census; George E. Roberts, Esq., Director of the Mint; the Hon. James Wilson, secretary, and George Wm. Hill, Esq., Editor-in-Chief, of the Department of Agriculture; and to numerous other federal and state officials, for special reports and important bulletins of latest information. They would also extend their thanks to the Librarian of Columbia University, New York City, and members of the library staff; to members of the staff of the Public Library, New York City; to many statesmen, scientists, authors, editors, and officers of corporations, companies, etc., for courteous information and suggestions which have enhanced the accuracy of the text and illustrated features of this Reference Library.