Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version



Published in GREAT PLAINS QUARTERLY 26:2 (Spring 2006). Copyright © 2006 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska–Lincoln.


The latest of the local encyclopedias is the University of Nebraska Press's Encyclopedia of the Great Plains. This work was long in the making: the idea for the encyclopedia emerged out of the University of Nebraska's Center for Great Plains Studies in the late 1980s.
Somewhere along the way, the editors of the Encyclopedia of the Great Plains decided to organize the entries not alphabetically but thematically. This thematic organization has its virtues, especially for readers interested in particular subjects. As editor David Wishart explains, the thematic chapters provide "an interpretive function which is lacking in purely alphabetical works." Yet the thematic organization removes much possibility for experiencing one of the unique pleasures of leafing through an encyclopedia: being surprised by an interesting entry that lies right next to the entry one sought.