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ENG 425

Created to help students discover resources related to their topic

We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children's literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children's books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children's books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began. 

Here are some excellent resources for helping you explore children's books through the centuries!

Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature

The Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries contains more than 115,000 volumes published in the United States and Great Britain from the mid-1600s to present day. The Library also has small holdings in manuscript collections, original artwork, and assorted ephemera such as board games, puzzles, and toys. The Baldwin Library is known for comparative editions of books, with special emphasis on Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim's Progress, Aesop's Fables, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The Library also has the largest collection of Early American Juvenile Imprints of any academic institution in the United States.

Other strengths and distinctions of the Baldwin Library include: alphabet books, marginalia and inscriptions, nonfiction from the 20th century, Little Golden Books, religious tracts, and illustrated editions from the Golden Age of Children's Literature. Scholars worldwide use the Baldwin Library for research in morality tales and religious tracts, conduct of life, gender roles, comparative editions, and toy and movable books.

De Grummond Children's Literature Collection

The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection is one of North America's leading research centers in the field of children's literature. Although the Collection has many strengths, the main focus is on American and British children's literature, historical and contemporary. Founded in 1966 by Dr. Lena Y. de Grummond, the Collection holds the original manuscripts and illustrations of more than 1,400 authors and illustrators, as well as over 200,000 published books dating from 1530 to the present.

​The collection contains the works of authors and illustrators that include Randolph Caldecott, John Newbery, Kate Greenaway, H.A. and Margret Rey and Ezra Jack Keats. These are some of the most celebrated names in children’s literature with Caldecott, Newbery, Greenaway and Keats all having prestigious national awards named in their honor, and the Rey’s being the creators of Curious George. Keats, the man behind The Snowy Day, is one of America’s most groundbreaking authors with his efforts to break the color barrier in children’s publishing, and The Snowy Day is considered to be one of the most important American books of the 20th century.

These original materials are supplemented by a book collection of historical and contemporary children's literature that include Aesop’s Fables that date back to 1530, a board game from 1790, more than 100 version of the Cinderella story and the papers of popular young adult author, John Green. Researchers from across the United States, around the world and all disciplines at Southern Miss visit the collection on a regular basis to study its fables, fairy tales, folklore, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, textbooks, religious books, moral tales, fantasy, fiction, primers, and children's magazines. Complementing these holdings are scholarly studies, biographies, bibliographies, and critical works.