Historic Children’s Books at the Library of Congress

Today’s New York Times has a lovely article about the rare children’s books housed at the Library of Congress, 100 of which are now digitized and available online. (Intriguingly, the children’s book called The Cats’ Party that the article features is entirely different from the identically-titled book that we hold at PPL. We’re pleased to know that two different 19th century authors decided to pen books about feline festivities.)

Check out the Library of Congress’s digitized children’s books here.

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Bad Children of History #36: Curtains Are Not For Wiping

Oh how we’ve missed the Bad Children of History! We recently cataloged a book that’s part of our Wetmore Collection, and contains dozens of delinquents and ill-mannered imps: La Civilité Puérile et Honnête, an etiquette book for children with illustrations by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel.

Boutet de Monvel’s illustrations aptly capture the sneakiness and hilarity of childhood, as well as the joy of hanging out at the seaside with miniature pizza peels.

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(Etiquette hot tip: don’t bury your friends’ heads in the sand.)

The “what not to do” images are priceless.

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“It wasn’t me.”

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“Agh, I dropped my Twinkies!”

This book’s children are naughty, and snotty.

They’re wiggly and squiggly.

 

They’re rude and crude.

We love the action shots.

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We also love the recommendation about bread-licking in the “table manners” section.

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Bad Children of History #34: French Rascals

Today’s gallic ungovernables come from a 1930 edition of the classic Les Malheurs de Sophie, with color illustrations by Jacques Touchet.

For those unfamiliar with the story, Sophie is an adventurous little girl who lives in a castle in the French countryside. She spends her days wandering through flowery glades, capturing squirrels, hosting tea parties, bickering with her beloved and well-behaved cousin, getting underfoot in the kitchen, and generally participating in wholesome mischief.

Here you can see one of Sophie’s great passions: scaling furniture in order to put her hands into unsanctioned containers.

When she isn’t stealing bon bons, Sophie likes to join cousin Paul in fun and completely normal children’s activities such as catching flies in a paper box. Of course, being bad children of history, Sophie and Paul get in a fight over the paper box, resulting in a series of unfortunate events culminating in the release of a great swarm of flies and a single interloping bee.

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“My eyes!!!!”

Apian mishaps aside, Sophie and Paul are great companions. They go for walks, they fall off a cart, they have arts and crafts time. Here’s an illustration of their creative endeavors, right after some watercolor painting and an argument wherein Sophie threw water in Paul’s face:

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Yes, hello, despite their teeny waistcoasts and extravagant domicile, Sophie and Paul are just like children everywhere: sometimes sweet, sometimes curious, often plain old naughty.

Real Pen Work and Exercises for Flourishing

We recently acquired a lovely volume entitled Real Pen Work: Self Instructor in Penmanship, published in 1884 by Knowles & Maxim.

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This book includes step-by-step instructions on everything from how to sit properly at your writing desk to the proper degree to which to slant letters. It features samples of script, promissory notes, verses for autograph albums, and these elegant business letters.

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There are handwriting exercises as well as exercises for flourishing, the latter of which sounds suspiciously like something one would find on a clean eating and wellness blog.

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The bulk of the book consists of illustrations made entirely through offhand flourishing, such as this graceful swan and this squiggly family (complete with curlicue guardian angel).

There’s even a small section of ornamental lettering, including some lovely color alphabets.

If you’d like to take a look at this or any of our other books on handwriting and hand-lettering, get in touch!

Bad Children of History #33: Struwwelpeter in Russia

Today we were deep in a pile of uncataloged Russian children’s books and found… another version of Struwwelpeter, published in Moscow and illustrated by Boris Zvorykin!

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So slovenly! Look at that droopy sock!

Here’s Struwwelpeter refusing to let his grandmother sponge off his shirt cuffs…

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…leading him to weep silently alongside some semi-domesticated boars.

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This book doesn’t contain all of the stories from the original, although it does have a few select favorites, including the sad story of the thumb-sucker accompanied by a thumb-removal illustration so ghastly that we will not include it here.

Instead, look at these sweet before-and-after vignettes from The Dreadful Story of the Matches:

Library Comics, or, Research as Hot Pursuit

We have big news:

Special Collections at the Providence Public Library is publishing a comic book!

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Lizard Ramone in Hot Pursuit: A Guide to Archives for Artists and Makers is a comic book conceived of and printed by the Providence Public Library in Providence, RI, working in collaboration with artist Jeremy Ferris, who created the storyline, illustrations, and text. It’s being distributed locally with a bonus insert illustrated by O. Horvath.

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Providence describes itself as the “Creative Capital”, and we work with a great number of artists and designers in our Special Collections. These creative researchers often have a different approach than the students, scholars, and genealogists whom many tend to think of as “typical” archival researchers.

After asking ourselves, “How can we better meet the needs of creative researchers?” and “How can we make our collections more accessible to artists and other non-traditional researchers?”, we decided to team up with a local illustrator and library student to make a fun-to-read guide demystifying archival research. (It’s also hilarious!) We wanted it to be specific enough that it could help our users, but general enough to be applicable to collections across the country.

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We’re having a comic book release party this coming Wednesday, June 21st, from 6:30-8 on the 3rd floor of the library. (Facebook event for the party here.) Artist Jeremy Ferris will give a short presentation and answer questions; we’ll also have a bevy of interactive stations, like a mini research consultation booth, a comics-drawing station, and a table where you can have your portrait drawn by a librarian. (We’ll also have snacks.)

For local blog readers, we hope to see you at the release party! For all blog readers, stay tuned for online-readable and printable versions of the comic book!

 

Magician of the Week #48: Rabbits!

This week’s featured magician isn’t technically a magician, but rather a magician’s most classic, well-loved, time-honored sidekick: the rabbit.

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There’s a bit of debate about the first magician to pull a rabbit from a hat–some say it was Louis Comte, in 1814, while others claim it was John Henry Anderson, “The Great Wizard of the North”. Either way, rabbits in hats have become synonymous with stage magic, as evidenced by the expressively-eyebrowed fellow above.

Today’s featured rabbits span decades, but all are taken from various covers of Ireland’s Magic Company Yearbook. We made a rabbit-y collage to showcase some of these soft sidekicks!

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You can find issues of Ireland’s Magic Company Yearbook, along with innumerable other rabbit illustrations, in our John H. Percival Collection on Magic.