ABC-CLIO Solutions

Pop Culture Universe

Icons, Idols, Ideas

by Edward J. Lordan, Krister Swanson, and Tiffini Travis and Nita Lang, Editors

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ABC-CLIO Solutions

Topics Popular Culture/General
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  • Award Winner!



    Email Customer Service or call 800-368-6868 for FTE pricing, starting at $530 per database for single site purchases. Ask about discounts on bundles and discounts for districts. ABC-CLIO Solutions databases are also available for purchase through EBSCO, Mackin, and Follett.

The study of pop culture can provide insights into the values, lifestyles, aspirations, accomplishments, and personalities of the people who lived before us, insights that students can't gain from simply reading a textbook about famous figures and events. While pop culture may not be as frequently studied a subject as, for instance, political or social movements, or even people's daily lives, it in some ways reveals even more about history as it really was and can give students the ability to apply what they know about the past to the world in which they live.

Pop Culture Universe: Icons, Idols, Ideas is an inherently fun yet authoritative database that deviates from the way in which social studies is usually taught by teaching history through books and literature; clothing, fashion, and appearance; film; food and drink; music; sports; technology and media; transportation and travel… all of the things that students find interesting about today's culture, in the context of America's past. It is a complement to any social studies course about life in America since the 1900s and an outstanding resource for research and discovery.


  • Houses more than 5,400 primary and secondary sources, including more than 2,800 photos and illustrations and more than 220 audio and video recordings
  • Includes more than 1,100 biographies of iconic figures, including J. K. Rowling, Steve Jobs, and Beyoncé
  • Provides historical background and multiple perspectives to complex questions reflective of global interconnectedness, such as "Is Barbie psychologically harmful to young girls?" and "When did Americans' obsession with celebrities truly begin?"
Suite Features

ABC-CLIO Solutions School Editions

Offering effective technology for your library and created specifically for middle and high school students, ABC-CLIO Solutions Schools Edition provides authoritative coverage of essential topics in U.S. history and government, world history, geography, and a range of multicultural and popular culture subjects.

Each online ABC-CLIO Solution includes four innovative components:

A COMPREHENSIVE REFERENCE LIBRARY with content from more than 230,000 primary sources and entries encompassing audio, video, photographs, illustrations, maps, and rich media.

A STANDARDS-BASED CURRICULUM updated daily by a team of subject-specific editorial experts and supported by an extensive range of instructional material.

A DEEP COLLECTION OF MODEL COMMENTARIES from noted scholars that have been specially commissioned to foster critical thinking stimulated by exposure to varying points of view.

AN EDUCATOR SUPPORT CENTER containing valuable professional development tools as well as relevant resources such as discussion points, activities, lesson plans, and research lists.


  • Updated daily with vetted, authoritative content, ABC-CLIO Solutions are always current, making outdated textbooks a thing of the past
  • Each Solutions database include a subject-specific library, a curriculum, unique model commentaries, and a full-featured educator support center
  • They're online and available for students and educators to access anywhere, anytime
  • More affordable than resources with far less content and fewer advanced features, Solutions databases represent an outstanding value
Advisory Board

Edward J. Lordan is a professor of communication studies at West Chester University, near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He has a bachelor's degree from West Chester University, a master's degree from Temple University, and a doctorate from the Newhouse School At Syracuse University. Lordan has taught courses in communication theory, public relations, advertising, political communication and media history for two decades at five different universities. He has published more than two dozen papers in academic publications as well as three books: Essentials of Public Relations Management (Burnham, Inc. Publishers), Politics, Ink: How American Editorial Cartoonists Skewer Politicians, From King George III to George Dubya (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers), and The Case for Combat: How Presidents Persuade Americans To Go To War (Praeger), which traces the history of presidential war rhetoric in America.

Krister Swanson received his BA in economics and history and his MA in educational administration from California Lutheran University. Additionally, he received his MA and PhD in U.S. history from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Swanson is a teacher at Thousand Oaks High School, located in Thousand Oaks, California. He instructs students in the varied topics of American history, literature, and government, as well as economics. Swanson previously taught at Valenica High School, where he was the social studies department chair, and at Arroyo Seco Junior High School, where he was the history department chair. In 2009, he served on the curriculum planning committee for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library's Air Force One Discovery Center. Swanson is the author of Baseball's Power Shift: How the Players Union, the Fans, and the Media Changed American Sports Culture (University of Nebraska Press, 2016).

Tiffini Travis, MLIS, is the adviser for Information Literacy and library instructional assessment at CSU Long Beach. She is responsible for facilitating campus-wide information literacy initiatives and developing strategies for assessing the impact of library instruction on student success. Additionally, she is the subject liaison librarian for Communication Studies and Sociology. Her varied research interests include subcultures, information literacy in the workplace, predictive analytics for libraries, and mobile library site usability. She is the co-author of Skinheads: A Guide to an American Subculture (Greenwood, 2012) with Perry Hardy of the Templars. Travis received her BA in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's of library and information science from University of California, Los Angeles.

Nita Lang is Editorial Specialist for ABC-CLIO's electronic program in American government and popular culture. Alongside her team, she writes, edits, and acquires content for the company's award-winning American Government and Popular Culture Universe databases. She has a BA in English from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington.

Topic Centers

1900s: The Age of Innocence
• The 1900s
1930s: The Great Depression
• The 1930s
1960s: Swingin' Sixties
• The 1960s
1990s: The Information Age
• The 1990s
1910s: The Age of Opulence
• The 1910s
1940s: The War Years
• The 1940s
1970s: The Me Decade
• The 1970s
2000s: Networked Nation
• The 2000s
1920s: The Roaring Twenties
• The 1920s
1950s: Cold War and Conformity
• The 1950s
1980s: The Big Eighties
• The 1980s



"The Big Picture: Greenwood has taken one of the most-loved research assignments in high schools to an entirely new level with Pop Culture Universe. No longer will students have to fight over single copies of print reference titles to research a specific decade or the everyday events surrounding historical events. Through Pop Culture Universe, students have immediate access to more than 300 full-text volumes covering the last 100 years of American pop culture. Organized by decade, the database allows students to quickly locate the section they need; within are dozens of topics ranging from music and fashion to politics and religion. In addition to the instant appeal that this resource provides users (young or old), librarians and teachers can be assured that its contents are written by experts (as opposed to a website created by an adoring fan or an excerpt taken from last week's episode of TMZ). Additional resources include a Skills Center that assists students in understanding how to do research assignments, evaluate elements of media literacy, and compare America's history and culture to better understand how these elements affect the world today....For Students and Teachers: For teachers searching for ways to introduce students to periods in history, Pop Culture Universe brings culture, music, entertainment, language, and life into the classroom in a fresh new way. Through the use of subject lists, topic links, and special indexes that provide students with an immediate way to access items of interest, Pop Culture Universe itself becomes a digital form of entertainment (and, of course, information)....Pop Culture Universe provides lesson ideas, subject links, usage ideas, and unique topics that can easily be used to expand areas of history, science, literature, music, art, and government for both middle school and high school students....Report Card: Greenwood's Pop Culture Universe database is not only a fun way to learn about the history of some of our favorite people, places, and things, it's also a great way to learn about America's past and the influence that popular culture has had on our world today. While many librarians try to provide a wide variety of resources dealing with the history and culture of America throughout much of the 20th century, few can provide the wealth of resources that this database provides. Greenwood's Pop Culture Universe database deserves and A+ for making research about our history, culture, and lives much more fun to experience the second time around."School Library Journal

"How good is it? This site combines the best aspects of web-based information (dynamic visual appeal, deep and broad content, and timeliness) with the best aspects of for-pay knowledge databases (stable, reliable information with a minimum of bias derived from authoritative sources). The result? A supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (oh, yes, it's in there) ten!....Bottom Line: To paraphrase from the file itself, PCU is peachy, the bee's knees, swell, nifty, slick, mean, smooth, the most, cool, neat-o, groovy, far out, dyn-o-mite, rad, bitchin', mint, stupid fresh, dope, fly, en fuego, phat, off the hook, hot, awesome, and highly recommended for all libraries. It will serve every user with a pulse."Library Journal

"Rarely does a database come along promising not only to inform and keep us up to date but also to entertain and even inspire us."Library Journal

"Having this much fun with a library subscription database should not be legal. The content in Greenwood's Pop Culture Universe is mesmerizing and intriguing enough that students are sure to investigate interconnected topics. It will be a rich source for assisting students who are interested in determining research topics....Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and general audience."Choice

"This database covering people and topics that have become known or important via the influence of mass media in Western culture has something for everyone. The home page has a fun vibe that should attract users."Booklist

"This site contains thousands of topics that will appeal to all levels of students, but without the bias, suggestive content, or questionable sources of most commercial and fan sites. This is a product that combines scholarship with the best in reference Web technology, thereby allowing students easy access to a wide range of pop culture topics, both current and historical. This site was recognized as the leading reference source of 2009, winning the prestigious Dartmouth Medal."ARBA

"The approach is a departure from the traditional historical offerings of ABC-CLIO, and brings a contemporary and refreshing new look to the website. High school students will find the interface highly motivating."ComputEd Gazette

"...this database is highly recommended for all levels from high school students to PhD."Reference Reviews


"Studying popular culture is a high-appeal way to approach important topics--social history, economic trends, cultural zeitgeist--through media that students relate to. Studying American history, literature, and other topics through the lens of popular culture provides a richer understanding of both the day-to-day lives of our parents, their parents, and their parents' parents, as well as the broad sweep of events on the world stage."—Sophie Brookover, Teen Librarian, Library Journal Mover & Shaker^LFounder, Pop Goes the Library blog

"Our pop culture defines more than just our leisure life. It affects our society. You cannot understand today's politics without celebrity activism; you cannot study McCarthyism without Edward R. Murrow and television in the '50s."—Nathaniel Zelinsky, Student, Hopkins School, New Haven, CT


2009 Dartmouth Medal — Dartmouth Medal

Booklist Editors' Choice 2008 — ALA

Best Digital Resource — School Library Journal

2009 EDDIE Award, High School Social Studies Website — ComputED Learning Center

Editor's Choice Award — Library Media Connection

Outstanding Academic Title, 2009 — Choice

2015 Education Software Review Award (EDDIE) - Best Social Studies Website — ComputED Gazette

2017 CODiE Award Winner - Best Social Sciences Instructional Solution — SIIA

2018 Gold Award — Modern Library Awards

2019 Best Social Studies Website — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)

2018 Best Social Studies Website — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)

2018 Best Online Educational Resource — ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES)



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