Pop Culture Universe
Icons, Idols, Ideas
September 2010, ABC-CLIO, ABC-CLIO Databases

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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.


Best Digital Resource—School Library Journal, June 1, 2009

2009 EDDIE Award, High School Social Studies Website—ComputED Learning Center, September 14, 2009

Editor's Choice Award —Library Media Connection, October 1, 2009

2009 Dartmouth Medal —Dartmouth Medal, January 1, 2010

Booklist Editors' Choice 2008—ALA, January 1, 2010

Outstanding Academic Title, 2009—Choice, January 1, 2010

2015 Education Software Review Award (EDDIE) - Best Social Studies Website—ComputED Gazette, September 28, 2015

2017 CODiE Award Winner - Best Social Sciences Instructional Solution—SIIA, July 28, 2017

2018 Gold Award—Modern Library Awards, January 23, 2018

2018 Best Social Studies Website—ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES), April 1, 2018

2018 Best Online Educational Resource—ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES), April 1, 2018

2019 Best Social Studies Website—ComputED Best Educational Software Awards (BESSIES), April 8, 2019


"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, September 1, 2008

"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, October 15, 2008

"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, June 1, 2008

"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, March 1, 2009

"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, January 1, 2009

"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, March 1, 2009

"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, September 17, 2009

"...this database is highly recommended for all levels from high school students to PhD."—Reference Reviews, November 24, 2010

"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
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
2010s: Social Revolution
• The 2010s

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.
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