Despite skepticism about the scholarly value of urban history encyclopedias, they represent a convergence of public, digital, and academic history. This essay demonstrates the existence of doubts about their value and then argues that both writing and editing urban history encyclopedias are forms of scholarly activity. The conclusion offers preliminary criteria for assessing urban history encyclopedias as works of scholarship.
Urban History Encyclopedias: Public, Digital, Scholarly Projects
Amanda I. Seligman is Associate Professor of History and Urban Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her books include Block by Block: Neighborhoods and Public Policy on Chicago’s West Side (University of Chicago Press, 2005) and Is Graduate School Really for You?: The Whos, Whats, Whys, and Hows of Pursuing a Master’s or Ph.D. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012). With Margo Anderson, she is co-editor of The Encyclopedia of Milwaukee, a project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities with an anticipated launch date in 2017.
I gratefully acknowledge the administrators, faculty, and staff of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for providing substantial moral, technical, intellectual, and financial support for the Encyclopedia of Milwaukee project and the University of Wisconsin System Regents, who provided a sabbatical leave that in part supported the writing of this essay. I would also like to thank Thomas Jabonsky, who offered a helpful and gracious last-minute intervention in this essay.
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Amanda I. Seligman; Urban History Encyclopedias: Public, Digital, Scholarly Projects. The Public Historian 1 May 2013; 35 (2): 24–35. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/tph.2013.35.2.24
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