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Discover how the Scottish publishing firm of W. & R. Chambers pioneered the use of images in encyclopaedias and dictionaries, embedded within the body of the text.

This formed part of their strategy to make the first two editions of Chambers’s Encyclopaedia: A Dictionary of Universal Knowledge for the People accessible to a wider audience.

W. & R. Chambers and the collection history

The research for the Democratising Knowledge project focused on archival material, the woodblocks and their production, and an analysis of the illustrations in Chambers's encyclopaedias.

Illustration styles and subjects

Learn more about how illustration styles changed from the mid to late 19th century, as images were influenced by the widespread use of photography and 'a golden age of information graphics'.
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