Philanthropy in America

A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia

by Dwight F. Burlingame, Editor


In the United States, individuals, corporations, and foundations contribute more than $200 billion annually to philanthropic enterprises, fueling a nonprofit sector that represents approximately 10 percent of the economy. Philanthropy in America offers the first comprehensive survey of this emerging area of scholarship in American history and life.

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Cover image for Philanthropy in America

August 2004


Pages 886
Volumes 3
Size 8 1/2x11
Topics American History/General
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    Hardcover: £227.00/245,00€/A$377.00

A landmark three-volume reference work documenting philanthropy and the nonprofit sector throughout American history, edited by the field's most widely recognized authority.

Developed under the guidance of Dr. Dwight Burlingame of the Indiana University Center on Philanthropy, one of the nation's premier institutes for the study of philanthropy, the three-volume Philanthropy in America: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia is the definitive work on philanthropic, charitable, and nonprofit endeavors in the United States. The first section of the encyclopedia contains over 200 A–Z entries covering the lives of important philanthropists, the missions and practices of key institutions and organizations, and the impact of seminal events throughout the history of the nonprofit sector in America, from precolonial times to the present.

Discussions of philanthropic traditions in ancient civilizations, in Europe during colonial times, and in countries around the world today provide fascinating contexts for understanding how the American philanthropic experience has developed. The encyclopedia also includes a collection of primary source documents (legislation, foundation reports, mission statements, etc.) for convenient review and further research.


  • Over 200 A–Z entries on people, events, organizations, and ideas in U.S. philanthropic history
  • Nearly 200 contributors—distinguished scholars from a variety of disciplines
  • Over 75 primary source documents from the Poor Laws of 1601 to excerpts from the Filer Commission Report of 1975
  • Chronology of important events in philanthropic history


  • No other work spans the history and scope of philanthropy in the United States
  • The list of contributors is a virtual "Who's Who" of scholars on the subject
  • The work addresses the needs of a growing field of study and of the nonprofit sector itself
Author Info

Dwight F. Burlingame, PhD, is professor of philanthropic studies and director of academic programs at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN. He is the author and editor of several works in the field of corporate citizenship, philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, and libraries.



"This book is an important addition to the growing field of philanthropic studies and fills a gap in the area. . . . Recommended for academic and large public library collections."Booklist

"This encyclopedia meets its stated purpose by providing a comprehensive overview of this emerging area of study. Summing Up: Recommended."Choice

"This is a worthwhile addition to most reference collections since it is potentially useful for a wide range of disciplines, including history, social work, philanthropic studies, and sociology."American Reference Books Annual

"Woven into the fabric of U.S. history, philanthropy has been an integral part of American life. This encyclopedia, the first comprehensive treatment of the topic, examines America's remarkable history of charitable action from the early 1600s to the present. The encyclopedia includes over 200 entries for individuals, organizations, events, theories, and legislation, with reference to the works for further study."Abstracts of Public Administration, Development, and the Environment

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