Funk and Wagnalls

From Academic Kids

Funk and Wagnalls is a publisher based in New York City. Isaac Kaufmann Funk founded the business in 1876 as I.K. Funk & Company. The firm's first publication was the Metropolitan Pulpit. In 1877, Adam Willis Wagnalls, one of Funk's classmates at Wittenburg College, joined the firm as a partner. The two changed the name of the firm to Funk & Wagnalls Company in 1890.

Prior to 1890, F. & W. published only religious-oriented works. The publication of The Literary Digest in 1890 marked a change for the firm to a publisher of general reference dictionaries and encyclopedias. The firm followed in 1894 with its most memorable publication, The Standard Dictionary of the English Language. 1912 saw the publication of the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedia.

In 1953, the firm began to sell its reference publications through a supermarket continuity marketing campaign headed by the editor-in-chief, Joseph Laffan Morse (1902-1968), encouraging consumers to include the latest volume of the encyclopedia on their shopping lists. By 1971, the company, known as Funk & Wagnalls, Inc., had been bought by Reader's Digest Association in 1965 and then again by the firm Dun & Bradstreet. In subsequent years, the publication rights to the company's reference works (aside from the encyclopedia) were acquired by other firms.

The publication rights to the encyclopedia were spun off by Dun & Bradstreet in 1983, and were bought up once more in 1990 by K-III Holdings Inc. In 1998, as part of the Information division of Primedia Inc. (a renamed K-III Holdings), Funk & Wagnalls Standard Encyclopedia became the website funkandwagnalls.com. This short-lived venture was shut down in 2001. The encyclopedia exists today only as Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, an electronic reference provided to educational institutions by the World Almanac Education Group.

Some content from the encyclopedia became a part of Microsoft's Encarta digital encyclopedia.

Trivia

  • Also a catch phrase on the Tonight Show, as part of the recurring "Carnac" routine done by Ed McMahon and Johnny Carson, as in "These answers have been hermetically sealed in a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch since noon today!"


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