Eleventh Edition

Background and Format Changes

– The 1911 eleventh edition was managed by Horace Everett Hooper and edited by Hugh Chisholm, with Walter Alison Phillips as the principal assistant editor.
– Hooper bought the rights to the 9th edition and convinced The Times to issue a reprint with additional volumes as the tenth edition.
– Hooper negotiated with Cambridge University Press to publish the 29-volume eleventh edition, which had substantial American influences.
– American marketing methods were used, with 14% of contributors being from North America and a New York office established to coordinate their work.
– The edition included articles from well-known scholars and introduced more female contributors.
– The eleventh edition was the first to be published complete, instead of releasing volumes as they were ready.
– The print type was continuously updated until publication.
– It included a comprehensive index volume with a categorical index.
– Long treatise-length articles were not included.
– The number of articles increased from 17,000 to 40,000.

Sales and Transition

– Hooper sold the rights to Sears, Roebuck and Company in 1920, making Britannica a substantially American publication.
– Additional volumes covering the events up to World War I were published in 1922, forming the twelfth edition.
– The twelfth and thirteenth editions shared much of the same content as the eleventh edition.
– The fourteenth edition, published in 1929, had considerable revisions and eliminated or abridged text.
– The eleventh edition served as the basis for all later versions until the fifteenth edition in 1974.


– In 1917, Willard Huntington Wright published ‘Misinforming a Nation,’ criticizing the inaccuracies and biases of the eleventh edition.
– Amos Urban Shirk found the fourteenth edition to be a big improvement over the eleventh.
– Robert Collison considered the eleventh edition to be one of the finest editions of Britannica, ranking it among the three greatest encyclopedias.
– Sir Kenneth Clark described the eleventh edition as a fascinating leap from one subject to another and praised its memorable information.
– Mathematician L. C. Karpinski criticized the eleventh edition for inaccuracies in articles on the history of mathematics.

Criticisms of the Eleventh Edition

– American Catholic critics expressed concerns about misrepresentation and bias against Catholics.
– Editors of the Christian magazine ‘America’ were among the most vocal critics.
Virginia Woolf and professors criticized the edition for its bourgeois and old-fashioned opinions on art, literature, and social sciences.
– Cornell professor Edward B. Titchener argued that the edition did not reflect the psychological atmosphere of its time and was not adapted to the requirements of the intelligent reader.
– Nate Pederson of ‘The Guardian’ noted that the eleventh edition represented a peak of colonial optimism before the war and has acquired a legendary reputation among collectors.

Racism, Sexism, and Antisemitism

– Critics have charged several editions, including the eleventh edition, with racism, sexism, and antisemitism.
– The eleventh edition characterizes the Ku Klux Klan as protecting the white race and restoring order to the American South after the Civil War, citing the need to control African Americans and the occurrence of rape by African American men on white women.
– The article on civilization in the eleventh edition argues for eugenics, stating that it is irrational to propagate low orders of intelligence and feed the ranks of paupers, defectives, and criminals.
– The eleventh edition does not include a biography of Marie Curie, despite her significant achievements and Nobel Prizes.
– The Britannica employed a large female editorial staff that wrote hundreds of articles but were not given credit.Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica_Eleventh_Edition