Guide to the Research Collections
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