HU professor, students work on encyclopedia

Jeff Webb 2010
Dr. Jeff Webb

HUNTINGTON, Ind. Dr. Jeff Webb is no stranger to writing academic works. As one of HU's history professors, Webb has written books, articles and professional conference papers. He is currently working on something a little bit different "The Encyclopedia of American Myth, Legend, and Folklore."

"The purpose of the encyclopedia is to introduce students and general readers to the key myths and legends in North American culture and to provide extensive, easily accessible coverage of the multifaceted American folklore tradition," Webb said.

Webb is working on the project alongside Dr. Christopher Fee, professor of English and chair of the English department at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa.

Fee's area of expertise is mythology, and Webb has experience with teaching and writing about American tall tales and folklore.

"We were approached by one of the staff at ABC-CLIO (Santa Barbara, Calif.) to produce a multi-volume collection of encyclopedia entries that captures the rich tradition of American folklore and mythology," Webb said.

The company that contacted them, ABC-CLIO, develops textbooks, e-books and magazines.

"The publication has 500 entries and will also contain illustrations, primary documents and sidebars," Webb said. "The total number of words is projected to be 750,000."

After the contract was secured in spring 2013, Webb and Fee submitted a large number of entries that following November. There are two more submission deadlines before the final manuscript is due in spring 2015.

"Chris thought it would be a good idea for us to identify a few students who could serve as assistant editors in order to give them some practical experience in professional editing, and I agreed," Webb said. "That's when Andrew Wickersham and Jaime Hillegonds came into the picture."

"Our task is inviting faculty members from around the United States to submit their research on topics ranging from Bigfoot to George Washington's wooden teeth," said Wickersham, a senior history major from Huntington, Ind. "We then compile the results into a readable reference series for high schools and universities."

Wickersham and Hillegonds, a junior English writing major from Lansing, Ill., fact check and edit the submissions from the scholars and return them to Webb for review. After that, they are bundled together and submitted to the publisher.