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Topic: African Americans in Children's Literature at UConn Archives & Special Collections — Home

This guide serves as a resource for researching African American representation in children's literature, as well as African American children's authors and illustrators in the UConn Archives & Special Collections.

About this Guide

This guide aims to highlight the diversity of the children's literature collections held in Archives & Special Collections. Using librarian and scholar Augusta Baker's 1975 article in the Horn Book entitled "The Changing Image of the Black in Children's Literature," as a starting bibliography, this guide offers researchers multiple avenues through which to explore African American representation in children's literature. 


Researchers can explore the resources in this guide using the menu options to the left to view examples of African American Children's Literature by decade, by publisher, by author/illustrator, and by book award.


To view Augusta Baker's article, see the links below.

About the Northeast Children's Literature Collection (NCLC)

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 the archives of artists and writers 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. 


NCLC 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, Hans Wilhelm, and Ed Young among others.


NCLC 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.