Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia

Article excerpt

The World of the Civil War: A Daily Life Encyclopedia. Ed. by Lisa Tendrich Frank. Daily Life Encyclopedias. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2015. 2 vols. Acid-free $198 (ISBN 978-1-4408-2978-9). Ebook available (978-1-44082979-6) call for pricing.

This work is part of Greenwood's Daily Life Encyclopedias series which addresses the branch of historical scholarship that emphasizes the roles and experiences of ordinary people rather than focusing exclusively on political/military leaders and similar prominent historical figures. Its 230-plus entries are divided into ten categories: "Arts"; "Clothing, Fashion, and Appearance"; "Economy and Work"; "Family Life and Gender Roles"; "Food and Drink"; "Housing and Community"; "Politics and Warfare"; "Recreation and Social Customs"; "Religion and Belief"; and "Science and Technology." Copies of fifteen primary documents follow the main section. Each section begins with a brief introduction that sets the context, followed by alphabetical entries for each sub-topic. Entries average 2-3 pages. Black and white illustrations are interspersed throughout the text. A table of contents conveniently lists all entries alphabetically under each broad category. Other features include a chronology, "see also" references to related articles, further reading lists for each entry, a selected bibliography, and detailed subject index.

Aimed at high school and college students as well as the general public, this encyclopedia contains an eclectic array of information on the many ways in which the Civil War impinged on the lives of average people from all walks of life. It "provide[s] the context and background for the military narratives that most commonly get retold as the history of the Civil War" (xv). As such, it likely fills a gap in the reference literature. While it presents a great deal of interesting material, there is no clear statement of criteria for inclusion beyond the brief introductory sections preceding each subject category and the work as a whole. This can lead to somewhat arbitrary choices of content. For example, the entry for railroads (under the "Science and Technology" category) appropriately treats the general role of railroads in both the Union and the Confederacy overall. …

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