Libraries & Collections at Rutgers: Special Collections and University Archives: Rare Books:
Nineteenth Century Children's Chapbook Collection
Housed in Special Collections and University Archives, the Rutgers University Libraries Nineteenth Century Children's Chapbook Collection consists of approximately nine hundred children's books issued between 1801 and 1900. These measure 10 centimeters or less in height, are generally bound in paper wrappers, and are of miscellaneous provenance. The preponderance of items were published in America, although some British chapbooks are included here as well. The collection includes religious tracts, toybooks, primers, catechisms, alphabets, hymns, songbooks, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, miniature books and wordless picture books, among other popular genres, and reflects the growth and development of American book illustration and wood engraving during this dynamic period. The Collection also includes some advertising formally imitative of children's books and evidently directed at children. The Collection constitutes an important part of the early and rare children's books in the Rutgers University Libraries.
Many similar and related materials (both cataloged and uncataloged) are collocated in Special Collections and University Archives. Pre-twentieth century children's books of various sizes have been catalogued into the Library Catalog, at the item level, and may be accessed using a standard catalog search. Of these materials, rare and early children's books published in New Jersey are housed in the 'Sinclair NJ' and 'Sinclair NJ-X' collections, and rare and early children's books published elsewhere are housed in the Library's rare, or 'X,' collection. An uncataloged collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century chapbooks, chiefly British, amassed by the eminent twentieth century bibliographer and entomologist, Harry B. Weiss, are also housed in Special Collections and University Archives.
The Finding Aid for the Nineteenth Century Children's Chapbook Collection mounted on the Special Collections and University Archives Web, and the collection level record mounted in the Library Catalog, represent only a significant part of the chapbooks in the Children's Chapbook Collection. Silvana Notarmaso, a graduate student in the Rutgers School of Communication, Information and Library Studies, organized the Finding Aid under the supervision of the Rare Book and Jerseyana Catalog Librarian. The time constraints of a school semester meant only a portion of the materials--which we estimate at one-third of the collection--could be identified and described. The Finding Aid will serve as a prototype for accessing the remainder of the Collection over the course of the next several years (1999-2001).
Images from the Children's Chapbook Collection
The following titles (and linked images) have been chosen for their intrinsic beauty and historical interest. Although publishers did occasionally use lithography and intaglio processes, wood engraving served as the usual method for reproducing illustrations. The extent of its utility and ubiquity in nineteenth century children's book publishing may be inferred from the fact that no other method is represented in the Rutgers Collection of almost one thousand titles. Although we have privileged the work of well-known artist/engravers, such as Alexander Anderson, John H. Hall, William Howland, Robert Roberts and Thomas Bewick, we have also provided a few images rendered by anonymous engravers produced after 1870 as examples of chromoxylography--printing in color by means of multiple wood blocks. Most of the items in the Children's Chapbook Collection were published earlier than 1870 when publishers such as the McLoughlin Bros. produced their inexpensive picture books in increasingly larger sizes. Similarly, since the Collection contains many more American publications than British, we have provided only a few representative images from British chapbooks.
Images from the Children's Chapbook Collection that are Printed in Two Colors
Related Web Resources
The Related Web Resources includes linked references to digital materials, maintained at Rutgers and elsewhere, relevant to the study of early children's literature and wood engraving. In this selection we have placed a link to the online catalog of the American Antiquarian Society, whose comprehensive holdings and detailed catalog descriptions of American children's literature of this period will be of significant value to many of the students and scholars using the Rutgers University Libraries Children's Chapbook Collection.