The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938

Book Reviews

BOOK REVIEWS
Dictionary of American Biography. Index Volume. (New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1937. Pp. vii, 613.)
This index to the twenty volumes of the D. A. B. was prepared
by the publishers, without the advice and assistance of the editorial
staff. It contains: (1) An alphabetical list of all the biographies
contained in the twenty volumes; (2) a list of all contributors, with
the articles written by each; (3) birthplaces of the subjects of the
sketches, with lists of subjects born in each state or foreign country;
(4) schools and colleges attended by the subjects of sketches; (5)
"Occupations" of the subjects; (6) a topical subject index of the
whole work (pages 475-613). The one important contribution is
to be found in these last 138 pages. Many miscellaneous topics
found a place incidentally in the biographical articles which a
general index could bring together and render valuable.
Since the sketches are arranged alphabetically in the several
volumes, it serves little purpose to print a consolidated list. The
same is true of the list of contributors; the only purpose that such
a listing serves is that of arranging under each author's name
the sketches written by him-possibly a matter of small conven-
ience but of questionable value. "Schools and Colleges" might
well have been spared; and "Occupations" is ridiculous. Here the
compiler simply adopted the first descriptive word following the
name of a subject and called it an occupation, with the curious
result that we have such occupations as adventurer, which is am-
biguous, agitator, anarchist, balladist, balloonist, baseball origi-
nator, bimetallist leader, blind, deaf, mute, brigand, buccaneer,
business man, business woman, controversialist, feminist, founder
(one who founds an institution), golfer, rebel, regicide, settler,
and many others. The "occupations" are arranged alphabetically,
with the result that it is puzzling to find the particular occupation
to which a given subject belonged. Virginia Dare, for example,
would appear (if she does appear) under the "occupation" of
being the first English child born in America. Instead of this
silly topic-that is, silly in the way it is handled-the compiler
<could have made a useful contribution, and one which might
have strengthened the sales appeal of the whole set by listing the

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 41, July 1937 - April, 1938. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101103/. Accessed July 28, 2014.