Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly
Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia
Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia. By F. Erik Brooks and Glenn L. Starks. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Greenwood, 2011. $89 (ISBN: 978-0-313-39415-7).
Greenwood's Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An Encyclopedia offers a concise and well edited collection of materials for beginning researchers to identify the major issues and historical events about Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The short single-volume set (338 pages), offers the brevity in its coverage that high school researchers and general interest readers will enjoy. The authors declare that the encyclopedia "was written for a wide audience, to include lay people, students, academics, and policymakers" (xvi), and the writing and contents are accessible and jargon-free but lack the depth that academics would desire. Editors F. Erik Brooks and Glenn L. Starks have both published works on the history of the U.S. Government and HBCUs and last collaborated on How Your Government Really Works: A Topical Encyclopedia of the Federal Government (Greenwood, 2008). The encyclopedia is arranged to provide a sequential history of HBCUs, divided in six major time periods such as "Reconstruction through 1899," with each featuring a well-researched introductory essay providing the context of the development of HBCUs. One page entries on individual HBCUs are arranged according to the date they were founded, with twenty to thirty schools included in each section. This organization helps to contextualize the founding of the school, but there could be more about the unique history of individual HBCUs. The content for the entries on the individual HBCUs offers some information about academic strengths and institutional histories but are somewhat limited as "these histories were primarily obtained from each school's official website" (xvi). The reviewer checked institutional histories in the encyclopedia with the websites of fifteen HBCUs and found that the entries in the encyclopedia were very similar to the history pages on the colleges' websites. …