Northeast Children's Literature Collection

History of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

The Special Collections Department was created in 1965 to house, organize, protect, and service the increasing numbers of rare, valuable, and fragile items owned by the library, including numerous research collections maintained as separate units. At this time, children’s books represented a small research collection of about 1,000 titles of the period 1840-1920 with emphasis on 1860-1900, a period that had been overlooked by other regional collectors. Illustrated material was also of particular interest.

In 1989, Norman Stevens, Director of University Libraries, asked Roger Crossgrove, Emeritus Professor of Art at the University of Connecticut and Billie M. Levy to work with Richard Schimmelpfeng, Director for Special Collections, and Ellen Embardo, Special Collections Librarian, to develop the Northeastern Children’s Literature Collections. With this initiative, the staff began to collect artists and writers archives, as well, to insure the preservation of every aspect of children’s book production – from the initial correspondence to preliminary drawings, finished art, dummies, mechanicals, proofs, galleys and manuscripts.

Northeast Children’s Literature Collection (NCLC). The purpose of the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection is to preserve the history of the creation of our best literature written for children. Emphasis is given to the perception of children’s literature as a form of art over other educational or social intentions. Archives are collected to document the process of children’s book creation by authors and illustrators in collaboration with agents, editors, designers and publishers. Archives. Archives & Special Collections holds over 120 archives of notable authors and illustrators of children’s literature native to or identified with the Northeast and East Coast of the United States. Significant holdings include the archives of Natalie Babbitt, Barbara Cooney, Tomie de Paola, Leonard E. Fisher, Ruth Krauss, James Marshall, Richard Scarry, Marc Simont, Esphyr Slobodkina, Joseph A. Smith, Cyndy Szekeres, Leonard Weisgard, and Ed Young among others.

Archives. Archives & Special Collections holds over 120 archives of notable authors and illustrators of children’s literature native to or identified with the Northeast and East Coast of the United States.  Significant holdings include the archives of Natalie Babbitt, Barbara Cooney, Tomie de Paola, Leonard E. Fisher, Ruth Krauss, James Marshall, Richard Scarry, Marc Simont, Esphyr Slobodkina, Joseph A. Smith, Cyndy Szekeres, Leonard Weisgard, and Ed Young among others.

Special Collections.  Archives & Special Collections develops a core collection of award-winning children’s books by participating in a children’s awards acquisition plan.  The plan encompasses standard prizes such as the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, a large number of multi-cultural awards such as the Coretta Scott King and Tomas Rivera awards and international awards from Australia, Canada, England, Ireland and New Zealand.  Published works in English by authors and illustrators whose archives are held are added comprehensively. 

Billie M. Levy Collection of Illustrated Children’s Literature

Includes 8,500 monographs collected by Billie M. Levy.  The goal of Levy’s collecting was to assemble a definitive collection of children’s books illustrated by American artists over the last 200 years.  As well, the collection contains works by European artists who have influenced American book illustration.  All illustrative techniques – pencil, pen and ink drawings, watercolors, paintings, photographs, etching and woodcuts -- are represented.  Examples of work of most American illustrators of children’s books are available; in all, more than 1,000 illustrators are presented.

Billie M. Levy Collection of Maurice Sendak

Includes over 800 monographs written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak.  The majority of the works are first editions.  In addition, the collection includes 115 pieces of realia manufactured for children, such as promotional toys, games, animals and other times that relate to Sendak’s stories and characters, as well as over 60 posters and clippings.

Black Beauty Collection

Includes 440 discrete editions, first American and British editions and braille editions of this classic of children’s literature written by Anna Sewall.

Daniel P. Younger Collection of Victorian Illustrated Children’s Books

Includes over 200 monographs collected by Daniel P. Younger, photography historian, professor of art and art history and director of the Olin Art Gallery, Kenyon College, 1997-2011.  The collection is a selection of illustrated children’s books published from 1841 to 1965, with the majority of titles published in the mid-to late nineteenth century.  The collection includes works by authors such as Lewis Carroll, Charles Kingsley, Edward Lear, Christina Rossetti, John Ruskin, Robert Louis Stevenson and other noted Victorian authors of children’s fiction.  Works are representative of the literary and pictorial development of fairy lore and fantasy in Great Britain and Europe.

Laverne Mahoney Collection of Children’s Christmas Books

Includes over 1,200 monographs collected by Laverne Mahoney.  The collection contains picture books, young adult novels and non-fiction works about the Christian holiday honoring the birth of Jesus Christ and a the secular cultural phenomenon.

Libraries and Librarians Collection

Includes over 500 monographs written for children about the important role of librarians and libraries in society, collected by Norman D. Stevens, Emeritus Director of University Libraries.  Intended to be comprehensive, the collection grew out of a broad interest in the image of the librarian in popular culture.

Malka Penn Children’s Book Collection on Human Rights

Includes 285 monographs selected by Michelle Palmer, children’s book author who writes under the pen name Malka Penn. Established in 2005, the collection contains picture books, young adult novels and non-fiction works which address issues such as the Holocaust, racism, prejudice, war and conflict.  

Phyllis Hirsh Boyson Collection of Children’s Literature

Includes 6,200 monographs and artifacts collected by Phyllis Hirsch Boyson, teacher and founder of The Children’s Center of Danbury.  Boyson received her Bachelor of Arts from Brandeis University in 1954 and a Master of Arts in Education from NYU in 1955.  From 1955-1981, Boyson taught in the New York school system and served as Day Care Director at Holley Child Care and Development Center in Englewood, NJ, a therapeutic early childhood program for emotionally disturbed children.  In 1981, Boyson founded the Children’s Center of Danbury, a multi-age, multi-cultural early chldhood center emphasizing the use of arts in education.  The books, dolls and artifacts collected by Boyson were used for special programs aimed at celebrating the cultures of the country’s diverse populations, emphasis placed on African-American, Native-American and Jewish cultures.

Digital Collections  

Children’s Books: Their Creators and Collectors

A Guide to the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection

to the Northeast Children's Literature Collection

Connecticut Children’s Book Fair. The Connecticut Children's Book Fair is a project of the University of Connecticut Libraries.  Since 1991, the fair has brought together prominent children's authors and illustrators and the general public in an annual event designed to foster the enjoyment of children's literature.

Research Grants and Fellowships. Support is provided for research in the Northeast Children's Literature Collection and for the creation of new text or illustrations intended for a children’s book, magazine, or other publication.