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Special Collections and Rare Book Department: Historical Children's Collection

Outlines major collections, provides links to finding aids and describes services of the Special Collections and Rare Book Department at Western Michigan University.


Collection of children's books

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One of the highlights of the Historical Children's Collection at Western Michigan University is a large selection of pop-up books.  These books can be found in the catalog by searching for the subject "toy and moveable books."

Historical Children's Collection

This collection began with donations from local librarians, Louise Singley and Eunice LeFevre.  Both were active members of The Friends of the Libraries at Western Michigan University. Miss Singley was a children's librarian at the Kalamazoo Public Library for 28 years. During her time there, she became known as, "The Story Book Lady." Eunice LeFevre also enjoyed books for children. She donated many historical educational books for children because of the insight they can bring to the development of young minds and the changing perception of childhood.  Later significant donations to this collection include Peter Rabbit books and other children's books donated by M.A. Haynes-Johnson (Western Michigan University Professor Emerita of English), and the J. Whirler and the Jean "Sam" Tyler pop-up and movable books collections.  More recently, a number of important textbooks used in instruction at the Western State Normal School have been added to the collection.

The research possibilities for this collection are great.  The original collection consisted of approximately 300 books, but it has grown to over 3000 volumes through purchases and additional donations and includes works such as educational books (primers, readers and geography books), fairy tales, classical literature, fables from around the world, serials, pop-up books, Newbery award winners, and picture books. There are multiple editions of each work of Horatio Alger, early editions of Louisa May Alcott and A.A. Milne, and an edition of Aesop's fables from the press of John Baskerville.  Recent acquisitions include current popular titles, books from outside North America and England and early textbooks from Western Michigan University's time as a normal school.  Also included in the collection are autographed copies of award-winning juvenile literature, foreign juvenile books, and works illustrated by Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac, Kate Greenaway, and N.C. Wyeth. The collection also includes over 1000 pop-up books.

Archival Sub-Collections of the Historical Children's Collection