November 18, 2019

National Library of Scotland (NLS) Digitizes and Makes First Edition of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ Available Online (Free)

From the National Library of Scotland:

An online copy of the first edition of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ is published today by the National Library of Scotland.

It was exactly 250 years ago that the first pages of ‘Britannica’ were published in Edinburgh.

With a distinctly Scottish viewpoint, the first edition emphasised two themes — modern science and Scottish identity.

Explicit engravings relating to midwifery scandalised subscribers, and were torn out of every copy on the orders of the Crown. Fortunately the Library has a complete copy in its collections, which is available free to view online thanks to a fundraising campaign for its digitisation.

‘Britannica’ was conceived by printer Colin Macfarquhar, engraver Andrew Bell, and William Smellie, who edited the first edition. Originally issued in 100 weekly parts, it took three years to produce and consisted of three volumes when it was completed in 1771.

Subsequent editions expanded during the 19th century, often featuring content written by experts in their field. By the 20th century ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ was a household name throughout the English-speaking world.

Resources

Direct to ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’ Online (First Edition)

Learn More: NLS Britannica Information Page

See Also: NLS ‘Britannica’ Appeal Aims to Fund the Digitisation and Publication of More Editions

Media Coverage

Edinburgh-made first Encyclopaedia Britannica to go online (via Edinburgh Evening News)

National Library of Scotland Digitise Encyclopedia Britannica (via The National)

 

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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