Northeast Children's Literature Collection
The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection acquires, preserves, and makes accessible works of historical and artistic significance in the field of children’s literature. The NCLC includes books, manuscripts, illustrations, correspondence, artifacts, and other related materials. Currently (2009) consisting of approximately 42,000-catalogued children’s books and serials, and the manuscript archives of 110 authors and illustrators, the collection is supported by reference works in Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center and the Homer Babbidge Library.
Beginnings of the NCLC
The story of the Northeast Children's Literature Collection begins in the 1960s with the acquisition of some 600 volumes of 19th and 20th century children's books from author/illustrator Nonny Hogrogian. During the 1970s the library engaged in the selective addition of the best historical and contemporary children's books and manuscripts, focusing on prize-winners and works by New England authors and illustrators. In 1983, Ms. Billie M. Levy placed on deposit 8,500 volumes from her private collection. A tireless and perspicacious collector, Ms. Levy was the first to convince such notables in the field as James Marshall to leave his materials to the University of Connecticut for research use. Ms. Levy has to date donated over 10,000 volumes.
Children's literature was a hot topic on campus in the 1970s and 1980s, with the leaders of the field like the late Dr. Francelia Butler, teaching, publishing, leading conferences and later the Peace Games; in effect helping to bring the study of children's literature into the mainstream of scholarship. The NCLC holds the papers of Dr. Butler and the large number of audiovisual materials created in her classroom. Many of the greatest names in children's literature, including Maurice Sendak and Big Bird, visited the popular Butler “kiddie lit” classes.
Other major donations include the Phyllis Hirsch Boyson Collection. This collection, donated in memory of Mrs. Boyson by her husband Bert contains over 6,300 children’s books. In addition, the Bridgeport Public Library in Bridgeport, Connecticut, recently donated its collection of historical children’s books, including many important children’s works in series, consisting of almost 3,300 books.
Included within the Northeast Children’s Literature Collection are several smaller sets of materials. One such is the Black Beauty collection, consisting of approximately 450 discrete editions produced in Great Britain and the United States. It contains nearly every edition published from the late 1870s to the mid-1980s, and offers insight into the effects of the times on text and illustration. Anna Sewell died in 1878, too soon to know how universal her story would become.
Manuscript collections are solicited from children’s authors and illustrators living in or identified with the Northeast and Eastern Seaboard. Of particular interest are collections containing all aspects of book creation, such as book dummies, sketches and other illustrations, dust jackets, drafts and revisions, correspondence, and related materials. These materials created prior to the finished work inform researchers on the nature of the entire creative process from conception to completion. The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection now contains approximately 105 collections of manuscript materials of significant author/illustrators such as Barbara Cooney, Eleanor Estes, Trina Schart Hyman, Ruth Krauss, Barry Moser, Richard Scarry, Marc Simont, Terrence Webster-Doyle and many others. James Marshall, a Mansfield, Connecticut, author and illustrator, donated materials that include original artwork from the popular George and Martha books, among others, to the collection.
Leonard Everett Fisher of Westport, Connecticut, has donated an extensive archive, which has been used to create curriculum guides for elementary school teachers, available on the web site for Archives & Special Collections (see http://doddcenter.uconn.edu). The collection also houses the illustrative works of Ed Young, the award-winning author/illustrator of Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. Cyndy Szekeres, of Putney, Vermont, who has produced or collaborated on over 125 books in nine languages, continues to add to her complete archive consisting of original illustrations, correspondence, drafts, dummies, proofs, and completed works. In 1999, the collection became the recipient of many of the works of Tomie dePaola, winner of a Caldecott Honor for the book Strega Nona. The dePaola collection consists of original sketches, artwork, finished works, correspondence, toys, ornaments, globes and related materials, by this prolific author/illustrator born in Meriden, Connecticut.
The Northeast Children’s Literature Collection’s general guidelines for book acquisitions are to collect historical and contemporary books written or illustrated by individuals with manuscript collections in the NCLC; those authored or illustrated by individuals associated with the Northeast or the Eastern Seaboard; those by authors and illustrators recognized as important to the genre; those representing publishing or artistic phenomena such as artists’ books. The NCLC also adds works that complement existing holdings and contemporary books that have won major national or international awards in approximately 60 categories such as the Newbery, Caldecott, Boston Globe/Horn Book, Pura Belpre, Scott O’Dell, Golden Kite, Phoenix, and many others.
For bibliographic information on holdings in the NCLC, go to the University of Connecticut Libraries' online system Homer (see ). For more information contact the curator Terri J. Goldich at 860.486.3646 or the web site at .