The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932

Book Reviews and Notices

Dictionary of American Biography. Edited by Allen Johnson
and Dumas Malone. Volume VII, pages ix, 636; Volume
VIII, pages ix, 612. (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1931, 1932.) Price, $12.50 a volume.
The Dictionary of American Biography is published under the
auspices of the American Council of Learned Societies. The
preparation of the manuscript was made possible by a subvention
of half a million dollars provided by the New York Times Com-
pany and Mr. Adolph S. Ochs, "with the understanding that the
entire responsibility for the contents of the volumes rest with the
American Council of Learned Societies." The Learned Societies op.
erate through a "Committee of Management"; the editorial work
is directed by a small and relatively stable board of editors; and
the biographies are prepared by a large and continually expand-
ing group of writers, chosen by the editors with careful regard
to the special fitness of each contributor for the task that he
As conceived by its projectors the work was to be non-partisan
and non-sectional, it was to contain sketches of all those (and
only of those) who had made a significant contribution to Ameri-
can life, and its articles were to reflect the highest standards of
critical scholarship and literary workmanship. No candid reader
of the eight volumes which have now appeared can doubt that
these aims have been attained in a high degree. Occasionally,
one wonders why a particular sketch was assigned to a given
writer rather than to another. Occasionally one finds it difficult
to determine upon just what ground a given subject is conceived
to have made a significant contribution to American life. No
critic possessed of a rudimentary consciousness of his own limi-
tations will, however, be long inclined to quarrel with the judg-
ment of the editors in selecting either the subjects or the con-
The combined number of pages in the two volumes here re-
viewed is 1,248. They contain 1,335 sketches by 519 different
writers. Some of the major biographies included in the volumes
are those of John C. and Jessie Fremont, Albert Gallatin, James


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 35, July 1931 - April, 1932. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 13, 2014.