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Greenwood's "Literature in Context" Web Resource Help Chicagoans Understand To Kill a Mockingbird

Media Contact: Lesley Sprigg, Context Communications

General Product Information: Please email

Westport, CT, October 5, 2001 - While Chicagoans read To Kill a Mockingbird during the city's "One Book One Chicago" program, they had an award-winning resource at their public libraries that helped them to understand the historical and social context in which the book was written in the 1950s.

To commemorate Chicago's Book Week City of Big Readers celebration, Greenwood Electronic Media donated use of its Literature in Context Web product, designed to help readers understand the culture and events that shaped an author's perspective while he or she was writing the book. This Web resource, called Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird, is accessible at all Chicago Public Libraries.

Greenwood's online sourcebook Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird by Claudia Durst Johnson provides a multi-media experience of the influences on Harper Lee as she was writing her story of Lawyer Atticus Finch's defense of a black man, told through his 6-year-old daughter Scout's eyes. The sourcebook explores the parallels between the fictional trial of Tom Robinson in Mockingbird and the Scottsboro trials of young African Americans, both of which took place in Alabama in the 1930s.

Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird offers photos, timelines, archival footage, audio clips and literary analysis to students, teachers and those who just want to know more about the historical context of the book. Documents include court testimony from the notorious Scottsboro Case, news stories and editorials on civil rights activities in Alabama in the 1950s, and memoirs, interviews, and other readings that promote interdisciplinary study of the novel.

The online sourcebook was called "an irresistible file of depth and substance" when it was named one of Library Journal's Best Databases and Discs in 2000. This year, Literature in Context received "Best Electronic Reference" from the same publication and was also an Awards Portfolio Winner from Media & Methods Magazine.

Interestingly the book, whose protagonist exemplifies racial tolerance, was recently banned by school administrators in Muskogee, Okla. To Kill a Mockingbird has previously caused an uproar in South Bend, Ind.; Tacoma, Wash. and San Antonio schools.

Literature in Context is presented by Greenwood Electronic Media, a division of The Greenwood Publishing Group.

Greenwood Electronic Media (GEM) was founded in 1998 by the Greenwood Publishing Group to deliver on-line products to media-savvy school, public and college libraries. Learn more about GEM at

The Greenwood Publishing Group (GPG) is one of the world's leading publishers of academic monographs, reference titles (for university, public, and school libraries), college texts, journals, professional books, and electronic resources. With over 18,000 titles in print, GPG publishes some 800 titles each year, many of which are recognized with annual awards from Choice, Library Journal, The American Library Association, and various scholarly and professional organizations.

The Greenwood Publishing Group is a member the Reed Elsevier plc group, a global publisher and information provider.

Journalists please note: To examine or review Understanding To Kill a Mockingbird go to, click on Mockingbird on the timeline on the top, then click on logon and enter "chicago" as the user name and "library" as the password. This user name and password will also work via the Mockingbird Recommended Resources page on the Chicago Library's Web site at

If you're using a GEM product in your classroom, and your 24-hour trial has expired, or if you have a product you'd like to see us develop, or if you just want to drop us a line, please feel free to write, call, or email:

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