E is for Encyclopedia

When I was around six years old, my parents got me the Golden Book Encyclopedia, this series of books for kids. Well, it was for my sisters and me. But I was the one who practically wore off the covers.

Three or four years later, Mom and Dad purchased the Encyclopedia Americana, ostensibly for the family, but I was clearly the greatest user by far. I may have read the whole thing, over time. Because the books became instantly dated, Americana sold these Annuals that would update the main books. My parents bought these as well, and I DID read the volumes practically cover to cover.

When I was living on my own, local supermarkets would often sell encyclopedias, one book a week. The first volume would be 99 cents, or maybe just a penny; subsequent books were three or four dollars each. I know I started buying these, because I ended up with a lot of A volumes; I knew more about aardwolves and Aachen than anyone should.

During my brief time in New York City, I was a telemarketer for about three months. I called people who had the World Book Encyclopedia already and ask them if they wanted to buy the Annual. I was rather good at selling these, as I recall.

Of course, now, most encyclopedias are available online, which makes them easier to keep up-to-date. Still, I still have a soft spot for those nearly uniform books that went from A clear down through Z.

That reminds me: I learned to spell the word encyclopedia from Jiminy Cricket on the Mickey Mouse Club.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12


35 thoughts on “E is for Encyclopedia

  1. As I started to read this post, I remembered my parents slowly buying a set from Funk & Wagnalls. I was confused, because I seemed to remember them buying the entries from a local grocery store, but that also seemed wrong. Thank you for showing me that this childhood memory is accurate.

    As a book nut, I too liked the uniformity of the books and how they looked on the shelf. It’s also hard to not enjoy the feeling of a book in your hands, but certainly see the logic in keeping them online now.

  2. I used to have a complete Funk and Wagnall’s encyclopedia, but I think my mom gave it away when I went to college years ago. I came home on a break and it was gone.

  3. Oh gosh, Roger, we’re aging ourselves! I remember my parents buying it, too, and how much we looked forward to the next book plus the extra ones! The books are all long gone now thanks to the internet but it’s a good memory!

    abcw team

  4. I love Encyclopedias, and have the Britannica -the only things is that they take up so much space! So, I’m glad for the invention of the computer to keep updated. My hat off for you, one of my kid’s first jobs was telemarketing, and bailed out after a week!

  5. Yup, I learned to spell encyclopedia the same way.
    When I saw your title, I immediately sang that little ditty in my head.
    We always had the full set of encyclopedias at our house too.
    Now they are practically antiques.

  6. We did the same for our children.. And the annual updates too. It was so helpful for homework in those days. I think we gave our copies away when we had to move years ago.

  7. We bought a Canadian Encyclopedia for our home, all the volumes at once but the annuals as they came out. I have the Britanica on disc, but I’m afraid Wikipedia is handier.

  8. Oh I remember the Golden Book Encyclopedias as well as the Britanica and World Book…we are dating ourselves… and I agree that there still is something to be said for those tomes. I also love just being able to pick them up off the shelves and just ‘surfing’ through them the old-fashioned way!

  9. There is something satisfying about shelves of encylopedias in their uniform colours in a reference library. Not having visited one for years I would guess nowadays there is a computer terminal.

  10. We still have a set of Funk and Wagnalls. In fact I was just looking at them and thinking “Guess these will not be moving with us when we go.” The one thing I really like about computers is that you can find information about almost anything. I LOVE that. I probably look up stuff on the computer a half a dozen times a day. It’s really good for finding out background information on politicians and city leaders. We’ve used it for looking up information about the place we are moving to, its financial stabilities, flood zones, earthquake standards etc. etc.

  11. I love encyclopedias and bought my own Britannica. I still enjoy perusing it. Imagine my surprise when my son brought home some guidelines for research papers that said that using encylopedias for research is not acceptable!!!

  12. I used to have one set bought for the family, but after a while it’s was under-utilized , with the internet taking over. Easier to do research online .

  13. I remember when I was a kid, a set of encyclopedias was a wonderful thing to have. Now all the information available on the internet just boggles the mind!
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea’s Menagerie

  14. Nice post, Roger. My family didn’t have an encyclopedia set, but I remember looking through a neighbor’s quite frequently. And, of course, reading them at the library. I wonder how many children nowadays know what an encyclopeida is?

  15. Yes I remember buying a book each week at the grocery. We had a couple of sets when our kids were little too. I don’t think my grands know what one is actually, but they can find ANYTHING on the computer.

  16. We didn’t have a set at our house, but I can remember spending countless hours at the library working on school projects. When several of us had to research the same topic we would have to take turns with a particular volume.

  17. I have lots of fond memories of encyclopedias lining the shelves at home and in my dad’s classroom. I did have a brother who read the encyclopedias all the way through at an early age as a bet with another brother. He has a photographic memory so he can remember everything he read. Some of what he read was waaay too old for him at the time however, and made for some very interesting conversations in the car with words that would make my parent’s spin around and ask me and my brother just younger than me, which of us had taught him that. Not guilty!

    Ah, fond memories. 😉 Enjoyed your post, Roger.

  18. My father had a complete set of an Encyclopedia (now an antique) and Mr. G. had started one too 43 years ago. Now our library has Encyclopedias in German and French and takes a lot of space. I use Wikipedia now when I want to know something now. It’s quicker. Modern times ….

  19. I remember flipping through the Encyclopedias as a kid, and looking at the glossy pictures!
    By the way, I am still laughing at your comment on my “E” post (about the ewe)! Thanks for your visit!

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