Online encyclopedia

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An online encyclopedia is an encyclopedia accessible through the internet, such as Wikipedia. The idea to build a free encyclopedia using the Internet can be traced at least to the 1994 Interpedia proposal; it was planned as an encyclopedia on the Internet to which everyone could contribute materials. The project never left the planning stage and was overtaken by a key branch of old printed encyclopedias.

Digitization of old content[edit]


There are a lot of old encyclopaedia and dictionaries of national biographies on Wikisource both in English and other languages. The completion of these encyclopaedias vary and the quality of the content varies from proof read, to poor quality text with many optical character recognition (OCR) errors.

Name Original publication Language Completion Link Notes
Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie de s:de:Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie
The Encyclopedia Americana 1906 en s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1906)
1920 en s:The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)
The Cyclopædia of American Biography 1918 en s:The Cyclopædia of American Biography
New American Cyclopædia 1897 en s:The American Cyclopædia (1879)
Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography 1900 en s:Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography
Encyclopædia Britannica Ninth Edition 1875–1889 en s:Encyclopædia Britannica, Ninth Edition
Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition 1911 en s:Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition
Encyclopædia Britannica Twelfth Edition 1922 en s:1922 Encyclopædia Britannica
Catholic Encyclopedia 1913 en 100% s:Catholic Encyclopedia Also referred to today as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia; The first volume appeared in March 1907 and it was completed in April 1914
Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century 1911 en s:Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century
Collier's Encyclopedia en s:Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)
Complete Encyclopaedia of Music 1880 en s:Complete Encyclopaedia of Music
Neue Deutsche Biographie de s:de:Neue Deutsche Biographie
Diccionario Geográfico de la República de Chile es s:es:Diccionario Geográfico de la República de Chile
Dictionary of National Biography 1885–1900 en s:Dictionary of National Biography, 1885–1900
1901 en s:Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement
1912 en s:Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement
Easton's Bible Dictionary en s:Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897)
Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle fr s:fr:Grand dictionnaire universel du XIXe siècle
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities 1890 en s:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1870 en s:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology
Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography 1854 en s:Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography
The Nuttall Encyclopædia 1907 en 100% s:The Nuttall Encyclopædia
The Indian Biographical Dictionary en s:The Indian Biographical Dictionary
New International Encyclopedia en s:The New International Encyclopædia
Jewish Encyclopedia 1905 en s:Jewish Encyclopedia


Many encyclopaedias are available at the Internet Archive. Although the original text is viewable the machine readable text is often poor with may OCR errors.

In January 1995, Project Gutenberg started to publish the ASCII text of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), but disagreement about the method halted the work after the first volume. For trademark reasons this has been published as the Gutenberg Encyclopedia. Project Gutenberg has restarted work on digitising and proofreading this encyclopedia; as of June 2005 it had not yet been published. Meanwhile, in the face of competition from rivals such as Encarta, the latest Britannica was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM and later as an online service.#

In 2001, ASCII text of all 28 volumes was published on Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition[1] by source; a copyright claim was added to the materials included. The website no longer exists.

Other digitization projects have made progress in other titles. One example is Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) digitized by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.[2]

A successful digitization of an encyclopedia was the Bartleby Project's online adaptation of the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition,[3] in early 2000 and is updated periodically.

Creation of new content[edit]

Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free contents on a volunteer basis. In 1991, the participants of the Usenet newsgroup[4] started a project to produce a real version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a fictional encyclopedia used in the works of Douglas Adams. It became known as Project Galactic Guide. Although it originally aimed to contain only real, factual articles, policy was changed to allow and encourage semi-real and unreal articles as well. Project Galactic Guide contains over 1700 articles, but no new articles have been added since 2000; this is probably partly due to the founding of h2g2, a more official project along similar lines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "LoveToKnow Classic Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 21 September 2001.
  2. ^ "Easton's Bible Dictionary by Easton". Archived from the original on 2003-08-03. Retrieved 2003-06-18.
  3. ^ "Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001". Archived from the original on 2002-02-05. Retrieved 2002-02-05.
  4. ^ "". Retrieved 2013-09-18.

External links[edit]