Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES



In the field of juvenile literature, the book selection policies of the Research Libraries bear directly upon the policy of the Central Children's Room in the Donnell Library Center of the Branch Libraries. The original policy of the Research Libraries was to acquire selectively only foreign children's literature, leaving the selection of English and American children's books entirely to the Central Children's Room, along with the general acquisition of books in other languages. This policy has changed considerably. By 1965 the General Research and Humanities Division of the Research Libraries (responsible for book selection in the field of the humanities in Western European languages and in English) was acquiring selectively English and American children's books representative of book production and illustration. Only in German was any systematic selection of children's books as literature being made. Old or rare children's books were not acquired. These Research Libraries collecting guidelines were qualified as follows:

Other divisions also acquire children's material of specialized subject interest. The American History Division is particularly interested in children's books about American Indians, while the Local History and Genealogy Division is concerned with those about New York City and, to a lesser extent, children's books about heraldry. Works in series which have a reputation of being well illustrated, such as the Junior American Heritage series in the American History Division, are obtained. Art books for children are not acquired. Very few purchases are made of old or rare children's books, although many have been accumulated over the years by the Rare Book Division. Purchases made by that division are in the field of English and American books. The Berg and Arents Collections have no interest in children's books unless the books fall within their collecting fields. The Oriental and Slavonic Divisions do not purchase current children's books unless they are by an established author of adult works, illustrated by a well-known illustrator, or represent a significant edition of a classic. Occasionally a textbook is acquired if it illustrates a historical change in the language. The Jewish Division buys selectively in Hebrew and Yiddish children's literature. The Economic and Public Affairs Division is highly selective in its acquisition of children's books; for example, it will buy a book on communism written for children or one on the New York Stock Exchange written for teen-agers. The Science and Technology Research Center does not buy or accept current children's books. The Map Division contains a representative selection of books on the elementary techniques of map making and map reading written for children.

Plays written for children are not acquired unless they have been professionally produced, but material about the amateur and professional productions of children's plays and material about any kind of professional entertainment--magic, puppet shows, children's films--is acquired by the Theatre Collection. The Music Division only occasionally acquires children's books. The Dance Collection is highly selective in acquiring children's materials which can be used by the teacher; these include books on singing games and dances at an elementary level, and ballet plots, synopses, and biographies at a junior high school and high school level. These materials are supplemented by a good collection of children's play, music, and folk songs in the Central Children's Room.


The Research Libraries own a possibly unique file of the very early Youth's News Paper (1797), as well as other early American children's periodicals. In addition C.F. Weisse's Der Kinderfreund (1775-81) and a partial set of the Deutsche Jugendzeitung (Dresden, 1832-48) typify holdings in early European children's periodicals. Some early Russian children's periodicals are available in the Slavonic Division, such as Detsko&icaron; (St. Petersburg, 1815). Both the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries and the Research Libraries own substantial runs of one of the best-known of children's magazines in the United States, St. Nicholas. Other periodicals available are broken runs of the Juvenile Miscellany and the Youth's Companion. A most significant acquisition in 1957 was the Giornale per i bambini (Rome, 1881-83) which contains the first appearance of Carlo Lovenzini's La storia di un burratino ("Pinocchio"). A substantial collection of amateur periodicals is presently housed in the library's Annex, with a supplementary, noncurrent collection located in the Periodicals Section. Extending in date from the last quarter of the nineteenth century through the 1950s, the material consists chiefly of collections formed by Bertram Adler, Charles R. Heins, and Charles W. Smith. These holdings are of interest as they contain examples of children's and young people's writing. Listed in the Public Catalog under the heading "Periodicals, Amateur," the collection has a typed index.

The magazines Seventeen (1958- ) and Horn Book (1933- ) are currently available in the Research Libraries; for other juvenile titles the public is referred to the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries. Several current periodicals are available in the Jewish, Oriental, and

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Slavonic Divisions, although these divisions place no stress on this type of material.



Two interesting early horn books are in the library's collections. One in the Rare Book Division, possibly of the eighteenth century, is of wood covered with brick-red paper, with the lesson sheet on the front covered with horn and the back stamped in black with the device of a double-headed eagle. The other, for which there is no indication of date or place of origin, is in the Berg Collection; it is of ivory, paddle-shaped, with alphabet and vowels engraved on the front. There are designs and pictures (including the head of a dog with a pipe in its mouth) on the handle, sides, and back.

In the Spencer Collection is found an early book designed strictly for children, Catechismus Pro Pueris et luventute (1539), designed to teach the Lutheran catechism to the young. Of similar intent, although intended for Puritan children, is the Rare Book Division copy of John Cotton's Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes in Either England. Drawn out of the Breasts of both Testaments for their Souls Nourishment (Cambridg [sic], 1656). This is the only known copy of the earliest American edition. Other religious catechisms are mainly American, ranging from the seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries. Another well-known item in the Rare Book Division is the earliest extant edition of the New-England Primer Enlarged (1727). It is the first in an important collection of New England Primers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Also found in the division are primers for American Indian children. Noah Webster's A Grammatical Institute of the English Language (1783), better known as Webster's "Spelling Book" or "Blue-backed Speller," forms part of an extensive collection of schoolbooks by this great educator, many of them his personal copies. The collection of Confederate school books in the Rare Book Division is also of interest, both in content and as examples of printing.

The Schatzki collection of children's books was purchased in 1932. Consisting of approximately 700 pieces, the collection was given the special class mark 8-NASZ. Some 15 items in the stacks were transferred to the Rare Book Division, and the outstanding book, an original edition of Struwwelpeter, is in the Spencer Collection. Most of the material is in German, published in the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Some 100 titles in French and English are from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Also included are a number of German encyclopedic picture books of the second half of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, finely illustrated with hand-colored engravings of the period, among them Bilder-Akademie für die Jugend (Nürnberg, 1782). There are also a number of German children's alphabet books and almanacs of the eighteenth century.

The C.C. Darton collection of 427 children's books, most of which bear the Darton publishing imprint, was acquired in 1940. Dating from the late eighteenth to the mid-nineteenth centuries, the majority of the books are of an instructional or moral nature.1

Chapbooks, Fairy Tales, and Other Material

The collection of English, Scottish, American, and foreign chapbooks numbers about 2,500 pieces ranging primarily from 1750 to about 1850.2 A chapbook may be defined as any printed material, from a broadside to a good-sized book, that was carried for sale by a chapman, or peddler. Many chapbooks were designed for children. An alphabetical card catalog of all the chapbooks in the Research Libraries is located in the Rare Book Division, where most of the collection is housed.

Also in the Rare Book Division is a first edition of Histoires ou contes du temps passé (1697) of Charles Perrault, perhaps better known as "Mère Loye" (Mother Goose). The Spencer Collection has a second edition of this famous work dated 1700 and a copy of the 1786 edition, which was the first with woodcuts, the earlier editions having been illustrated with engravings.

 The Life of Washington the Great (Augusta, Georgia, 1806), by Mason Locke (Parson) Weems, is a much sought-after item. The first four editions of this work were factual biography, but with the fifth the author rewrote the book, inventing the hatchet story and other "very curious anecdotes" which made him and his book famous. William Roscoe's The Butterfly's Ball (1807), which broke with the current tradition of the moral tale, is in the Spencer Collection, with a set of original drawings in pen and wash by the artist, William Mulready. Another nursery classic in the Spencer Collection is a first edition of Heinrich Hoffmann-Donner's Lustige Geschichten und drollige Bilder (1845), more familiar as Struwwelpeter or Slovenly Peter. The rarer first edition of the book in English, entitled The English Struwwelpeter or Pretty Stories and Funny Pictures for Little Children (Leipsic [sic], 1848), is also in the Spencer Collection.

The Slavonic Division houses a number of early Russian children's books dating from 1740 to the mid-nineteenth century. Among them are bibliographical rarities and specimens of fine printing and illustration.

The Beadle Dime Novel collection was given to the library in 1922 by Dr. Frank P. O'Brien. It includes, among the varied series in which these novels were issued, 68 of the famous "original yellow back novels" which began to appear in 1850. Seventeen of the first 25 titles of this series are in the collection, including a first edition of Edward Ellis's celebrated Seth Jones, a story of the New York wilderness in 1785. There were 1,400 items in the collection, now housed in the Rare Book Division, which has not been greatly augmented in succeeding years.3 In 1963, C.V. Clare gave approximately 900 issues of the Diamond Dick Weekly and the Wild West Weekly, which serve to supplement the holdings of publications inspired by the Beadle imprints.

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The holdings of later nineteenth- and early twentieth-century children's fiction are extensive. The William T. Adams stories, written under the pseudonym of Oliver Optic, are complete, and there are substantial runs of the Horatio Alger series, G.A. Henty, Martha Finley, L. Frank Baum, and many others. The Arents Collection of Books in Parts holds a first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, dedicated by the author to his mother, and a series of proofs for illustrations of the work.

The Berg Collection supports the general holdings of the Research Libraries with a number of first editions of classical children's literature, many in multiple copies. For example, the Berg Collection copy of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) is one of a small number of located copies of the first edition withdrawn because of the dissatisfaction of the artist and author with the printing of the pictures. The collection also has seven copies of the second edition, dated London, 1866, and three copies of the earliest American edition of the same year. Two copies of the London, 1866 edition are presentation copies; one to Alice Pleasance Liddell, the original Alice, bound for her in blue morocco with her initials; the second inscribed to her sister, Lorina Charlotte Liddell.

The holdings of twentieth-century children's literature in the Research Libraries are selective. More complete collections of children's fiction in English are to be found in the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries. Nonfiction holdings roughly parallel fictional holdings in scope and extent.

Picture Books

Kate Greenaway is perhaps the best-represented great children's book illustrator of the late nineteenth century. The Prints Division has a complete set of her Almanacks (London, 1883-97, except 1896, not published), and 10 of the 13 issues of the French Almanach de Kate Greenaway (Paris, 1885-86, 1888-95). The Arents Collection of Books in Parts, in addition to a complete set of the Almanacks, owns several other Kate Greenaway picture books. The Arents Collections also have all the Randolph Caldecott Picture Books published from 1878 to 1885. In the Spencer Collection are many books illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane Edmund Dulac, and others. Russian picture books in the Slavonic Division number some 350 items and range from the late 1920s to the present. The Research Libraries do not attempt, however, to collect children's picture books except on a very limited basis, and then primarily for their artistic or typographic interest. The most complete holdings of picture books are located in the Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries.


Although the Mulready drawings for William Roscoe's The Butterfly's Ball in the Spencer Collection, and a number of original drawings by George Cruikshank (some of which were intended for children's books) in the Berg Collection are notable, the library's strongest holdings of original drawings center on the English book artists of the late nineteenth century--Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, Kate Greenaway, and Beatrix Potter. The Central Children's Room of the Branch Libraries holds six original drawings in pen-and-ink by Randolph Caldecott for his picture book The Diverting History of John Gilpin (1878). In the Arents Collection of Books in Parts are original drawings for nine of the uncolored plates for another of Caldecott's picture books, Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross (1894). The Spencer Collection has ten of Walter Crane's holograph pencil sketches for the Grimm Household Stories (1882) bound in with a copy of the book; also included is a group of watercolors made by Crane for his daughter Beatrice during a stay in Rome in 1882 and 1883, entitled Beatrice's Birthplace; these drawings have probably never been published. In the Manuscripts and Archives Division and in the Berg Collection are an illustrated manuscript diary, maps, and other related material on Walter Crane's trip to India from 1906 to 1907.

About one hundred Kate Greenaway drawings, watercolors, and designs for illustrations and Christmas cards are in the Berg Collection, while the Arents Collection of Books in Parts holds the complete set of original watercolors and drawings by the artist for her Mother Goose, with the original manuscript of the poems and rhymes. In addition to these are many other drawings, including a number done for the almanacs.

Although Beatrix Potter is represented by a single drawing in the library's collections--a watercolor entitled "Winter" in the Central Children's Room--the Manuscripts and Archives Division has two boxes of correspondence, Christmas cards, and photographs exchanged by Miss Potter and Anne Carroll Moore. This correspondence was part of a gift made to the library in 1961 by S.B. Lunt, Miss Moore's nephew. Also included were the layout for The Art of Beatrix Potter for which Miss Moore wrote the introduction, and correspondence with the children's book artist L. Leslie Brooke and many other authors with whom Miss Moore was associated.

Striking items in the Berg Collection include two original watercolor drawings for Thackeray's The Rose and the Ring (1885) and an original Tenniel drawing for Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass. The Spencer Collection holds four gouache drawings by Edmund Dulac for his illustrations to Hawthorne's Tanglewood Tales (1919), twenty-two original Arthur Rackham drawings bound in a volume, and a manuscript of A Midsummer Night's Dream with original illustrations and decorations by Rackham. The Spencer Collection has purchased two sets of original drawings and sketches to accompany copies of Thomas Handforth's Mei Li (1938) and James Daugherty's Andy and the Lion (1938).

Among outstanding manuscripts is the pen-and-pencil holograph of Frances Hodgson Burnett's The Secret Garden (1911) in the Manuscripts and Archives Division, where it is joined by the original manuscript of "The Proud Little Grain of Wheat," a story published in St. Nicholas for January 1880. A group of twenty-two autograph letters by Lewis Carroll range in date from 1873 to 1891; the majority of the letters are addressed to Mrs. Blakemore.


Central Children's Room

Certain units of the Branch Libraries must be mentioned in any Guide to the library's research

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resources. Since its opening on May 24, 1911, the Central Children's Room (now in the Donnell Library Center) has been an international center of information about children's books and reading, and has been used by adults as well as children. There are now 1,000 bound periodicals and 79,000 books, including an old book collection of more than 2,100 items. Material is selected in accordance with the recommendations of the Office of Children's Services of the Branch Libraries. Careful consideration is given each new title, and every edition of a recommended title is treated as a new book. Factors of good design, illustration, and format, as well as literary quality, are taken into consideration.

In the total book collection are 47,000 volumes of noncirculating reference books and 8,000 foreign-language books in fifty different languages. Audiovisual materials in the collection include more than 2,000 phonograph records both musical and spoken, a small collection of cassettes, and film strips. Particular strengths are the collections of picture books (both English and American) of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, material on children's book illustration, and folklore.

Outstanding among the room's noncirculating holdings is a group of French deluxe picture books of the late nineteenth century, including Louis Maurice Boutet de Monvel's charming Nos enfants (1886), Jeanne d'Arc (1897), and Filles et garçons (1915). Of equal interest is a series of nine titles published by the imperial Russian government in the early years of the twentieth century and illustrated by Ivan Bilibin. A series of Soviet picture books of the immediate post-Revolutionary period are of some rarity. In 1961 the Children's Room received a gift of modern Soviet children's books. Both fiction and nonfiction are included, and there are many translations of the great children's classics into Russian. Among the many speciments of modern European children's books, a group of the books of Bruno Munari are examples of inventive modern work. Also included is a first edition of Jean de Brunhoff's classic, Histoire de Babar le petit éléphant (1931).

The Central Children's Room is also rich in nonbook material. Of importance in the history of American book illustration is a complete set of the original line drawings by Howard Pyle for his The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood (1883) given by the publishers, Charles Scribner's Sons. There is also a complete set of the N.C. Wyeth oil paintings which served as illustrations for his edition of Robin Hood (1917), five illustrations for Kidnapped (1913), and two for Treasure Island (1911). The great English children's illustrators of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries are represented in drawings by Kate Greenaway, Beatrix Potter, Walter Crane, and Randolph Caldecott. A growing collection of painting by children includes work from Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Japan, the United States. China, and other countries. There is also children's sculpture done as part of a WPA project, as well as a collection of valentines, mostly of the nineteenth century.

Representing a much-collected field are holdings of the toy theatre sheets of England, sometimes referred to as "penny plain, twopence coloured." The Children's Room has, for the most part, the "twopence coloured" sheets published by Benjamin Pollock. There are uncut sheets of figures and scenery, with sheets of theatre prosceniums and transformations for a number of dramas, among them Timour the Tartar, The Miller and His Men, Aladdin, and The Battle of Waterloo; included are the little books of the plays. There is also a nineteenth-century toy theatre constructed in England. Other three-dimensional items include collections of toys and games, many from Japan, and small figures of characters from famous children's books in bronze, porcelain, and other materials.

The Central Children's Room holds frequent exhibits, one of which is an exhibition of children's books suggested as holiday gifts shown during November and December. An annual catalog is published for free distribution through the branch libraries and for sale as a library publication by mail.

Some Notable Gifts

Mary Gould Davis, for many years supervisor of storytelling, built up a collection of folk tales, source books on folklore, and picture books including many autographs and presentation copies with original drawings. The collection, amounting to over 750 items, was presented after her death by her sister, Mrs. Perley Bryant Davis.

Approximately one thousand items from the library of Anne Carroll Moore, superintendent of Work with Children from 1906 to 1941, were given by her nephew, S.B. Lunt, in 1961 after Miss Moore's death. The material consisted of books, manuscripts, letters, original drawings, and presentation copies of children's books.

Susan D. Bliss has given, over a period of years, many fine and first editions of the classics and of children's books, games toys, drawings, and other material. Of particular interest are two original découpages made by Hans Christian Andersen.

Elizabeth Ball has donated battledores and other material to the Central Children's Room. The old valentine collection has developed almost entirely through gifts, many of them having been presented by the widow of Arthur B. Hopkins. Frederic Melcher gave the Children's Room toys, games, and children's books, and after his death his son, Daniel Melcher, presented his father's collection of Japanese children's books. In October 1972 the books displayed in the exhibition of Japanese Children's Books, Past and Present were given to the Central Children's Room by the Japanese Book Publishers' Association. Another outstanding gift is a collection of children's picture books from the nineteenth century presented by Lincoln Kirstein.

Countee Cullen Regional Branch

The James Weldon Johnson collection of books for children about the black experience is kept on permanent reserve at the Countee Cullen Regional Branch at 104 West 136th Street for use in the Children's Room there.4 Most of the titles are also available for circulation in children's rooms throughout the city.

General Library of the Performing Arts

The Children's Library of the General Library of the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center contains

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a reading room collection of books, phonodiscs and cassettes, and sheet music relating to children's theatre, music, dance, and storytelling. Musical and nonmusical recordings include dramatizations of Newbery Medal books. Also of interest is the collection of manuscripts and memorabilia of the Broadway child-star Elsie Leslie.