Columbia University Press: A Quasquicentennial

Did you know that 2018 is CUP’s quasquicentennial? (Hint: the meaning of that word is in our new social media logo.) In honor of this great feat, we’re going to be treating you all to an inside look at CUP through a series of blog posts. Whether they are photographs, fun facts, or old books, glimpses of our past and our present will be waiting for you on the blog Thursdays and Fridays.

First up is this doozy from the 1950s. Remember this? (The book, not the people.) Back on January 1, 1928, Clarke Fisher Ansley joined the press from the Encyclopedia Britannica and introduced the idea of creating a Columbia encyclopedia. His task was twofold: to establish an editorial department and to create The Columbia Encyclopedia.

We’d say his idea was a success! In 1935 we published the first edition of the The Columbia Encyclopedia. The New York Times called the Columbia Encyclopedia “the first one-volume encyclopedia in English worthy of the name.” Other newspapers and journals from a broad spectrum of political and religious views also praised its lack of bias or prejudice. It also brought the Press to the attention of readers who never before had known such a publisher existed. It was so popular that by December, the first printing of 20,000 copies was close to selling out and a second printing was ordered.

First Edition of The Columbia Encyclopedia

Fun Fact: The Encyclopedia contained twice as many words as originally planned and one-third times as many entries. Wow! Can you imagine hefting that thing around?

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