Encyclopedia Americana Online

Set of encyclopedias

The Encyclopedia Americana online is an electronic reference that is available at Scholastic.com. This site does require a paid subscription in order to access the features, but you can request a free trial if you are a teacher or administrator overseeing any number of students. However, the online services aren't just geared toward kids and students; adults will find the Encyclopedia Americana online a great tool for personal use as well.


This encyclopedia's first volumes appeared between the years 1829 and 1833 and consisted of 13 volumes. In 1902, with direction from the magazine Scientific American, a 16-volume set was printed that included many of the articles in the original version, plus new works detailing the years after the 1833 version. A complete overhaul occurred in 1918 through 1920, and after that a Yearbook supplement was printed annually until 2000.

Grolier purchased the encyclopedia in 1945 and sales continued to be strong through door-to-door sales and mail-order flyers. In the 1970's Grolier added telemarketing campaigns to their promotions and began letting third party companies sell their products.

In 2000, Scholastic purchased Grolier for $400 million, hoping to increase revenue, which they projected at 30%. In 2008, Encyclopedia Americana went exclusively online in order to cut costs on maintaining a physical reference book.

Encyclopedia Americana Online

The Encyclopedia Americana online is a visually-friendly website aimed towards educators and students. You'll find over 500,000 links to reference materials, Web sites and periodicals for the student environment and lesson plans, project ideas and activities for educators.

Some of the other major features:

  • International New Desk gives you links to hundreds of online newspapers from around the world for international research or news.
  • News Now allows the reader to view news and current events appropriate for their age. For teachers, you'll find discussion questions and a guide related to the article, which includes all articles in this section.
  • Lexile Search provides age-appropriate articles where students can research material that is available at their level.

Encyclopedia Americana uses two learning environments to present material. Grolier Online Kids is a multimedia-rich environment geared towards Grades 1-5 and those just learning the English language. The Grolier Online Passport is for Grades 6 and higher and is also good for adults. This environment features more in-depth articles and many more links for research.

Databases are a key feature of this online encyclopedia. Eight databases cover a variety of topics:

  • The New Book of Knowledge is the general reference section for students.
  • Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia includes media resources in terms of pictures, videos, audio and presentations for a unique research experience.
  • Encyclopedia Americana is the main reference resource for everyone, including students and schools, libraries and academic institutions.
  • The New Book of Popular Science deals with technology, health, and science knowledge and news.
  • Lands and People give the user current data on cultures, foreign current events and countries.
  • Amazing Animals of the World is a virtual database on over 1,000 animals.
  • America the Beautiful is a comprehensive resource on American history and those who shaped the United States as well as information on states and anything related to America.
  • La Nueva Enciclopedia Cumbre and Aula de Espanol is a research resource for Spanish-speaking users and those learning the Spanish language.

Getting Information

If you're unsure what you exactly need, you can take a short survey to determine the needs of your students or institution. After you answer a few questions, you'll receive a recommendation on the databases you should consider. After that, you can receive a price quote via e-mail on those databases or the entire online encyclopedia. If you are an educator or in the education industry, then you may be eligible for a free trial and you should take advantage of that if you want to research the product itself.

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Encyclopedia Americana Online