The 1850s were a particularly fruitful and eventful period in American history, a time of unrest and preparation for change. This reference work provides a thorough record of the cultural happenings in America during that period. The volume is divided into several sections. It begins with a chronology that presents the events of the 1850s in capsule form year by year. A list of entries follows. The encyclopedia that comes after the list of entries contains brief, alphabetically arranged articles for performers, military personnel, theologians, composers, critics, educators, explorers, historians, industrialists, inventors, authors, artists, physicians, scientists, sculptors, and numerous events and creative works. A bibliography, divided into topical sections, directs the reader to the best sources of additional information. An appendix lists the biographical entries according to professional categories, and a detailed index adds to the usefulness of the volume.