FREEDOM ENCYCLOPEDIA by Frances with Elizabeth Crandall Cavanah


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American Liberties in the Making,"" the subtitle here, was also the subject of Miss Cavanah's fine 1966 Our Country's Freedom, and this is, in effect, the same material separated, expanded and alphabetized--with the addition of considerable European (especially seventeenth-century English) background. Entries generally include movements (e.g. Anti-slavery, Woman Suffrage, Negro Rights), documents (including official and special declarations), organizations (e.g. American Civil Liberties Union, Freedmen's Bureau, League of Nations), individual persons, and many hard-to-classify topics such as Natural Rights, Separation of Church and State, Freedom of Thought. (All are roughly grouped in the study guide that precedes the alphabetical listing.) How will this work with or for children? Firstly, the chatty, interpretive (rather than strictly informational) approach represents a humanizing of the typical encyclopedia entry. Secondly, the emphasis in the case of individuals is on the contribution of each to the central theme; other aspects are summarized (but not always: Eisenhower gets as much space as Jefferson because his role in World War II is spelled out). Thirdly, some topics--the intangible--are not singled out elsewhere. Which leads to the choice of entries: what is included, what is omitted--and what that signifies. Among Negroes only F. Douglass, B. T. Washington and M. L. King are treated separately, although Du Bois is characterized as a critic of the second, and J. W. Johnson, Walter White and Roy Wilkins are mentioned under the NAACP. Economic freedom gets little attention: the only labor leader listed is Gompers, there's not a mention of Debs or any of the more recent figures; also, nothing concrete on antitrust legislation or consumer protection. Throughout--and this is the crux--the idea of history as progress rather than as the result of contending forces is implicitly maintained; graphically, Clay is included but not Calhoun. (And not the Dred Scott Decision or the Scopes Trial or Sacco-Vanzetti or Joe McCarthy, etc., etc.) Which is hard to explain in a book sufficiently aware to include Milton and Locke and the Levellers. It does seem to have been scrupulously checked for accuracy; the only obvious error is the placement of Eisenhower's portrait, without identification, with the article on Truman. For what it does well, then, this may be useful, but it is hardly encyclopedic.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1968
Publisher: Rand McNally