Many of the themes of girlhood depicted in the Angels & Tomboys: Girlhood in 19th-Century American Art exhibition were first illustrated in books. Children’s literature began with spoken stories, songs, and poems that were a means to instruct young people; teaching morals, manners, religious lessons, or preparing children for adult responsibilities.
Children’s literature boomed during the 1800s for many reasons: paper and printing became widely available and affordable, and more people were learning to read. The population expansion across the West meant that there was a greater market for children’s books. Scenes of children reading or playing school reveal the expanding literacy in post-Civil War America. The Museum Library currently has several nineteenth-century children’s books on display:
Freaks and Frolics of Little Girls and Boys, 1887, by Josephine Pollard reveals the folly, energy, and sometimes the cruelty of childhood with clever verse and small chromolithographic vignettes in the midst of text. This work was published by the very successful McLoughlin Brothers company which specialized in books, games, and toys for children.
Two Tea Parties, 1882, by Rosalie Vanderwater, with illustrations by Wilson De Meza. A versified tale of children planning a tea party, every page of text is illustrated with drawings, vignettes, and/or decorative borders.
Around the House, 1882, by Edward Willett, with illustrations by Charles Kendrick depicts children at play, indoors and outdoors, in different seasons. The lithography was done by the well-known firm of Julius Bien in New York.
Singing Verses for Children, 1887 by Lydia Avery Coonley, with illustrations by Alice Kellogg Tyler. A charming songbook donated by JoAnne Wiemers Bowie of Bentonville, Arkansas. JoAnne is the great-grandniece of the illustrator Alice Kellogg Tyler. Tyler was a well-known painter who studied at the Academie in Paris and the Academy of Fine Arts (later the Art Institute of Chicago). She received painting awards in the Paris Salon, the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889, and in Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exposition.
These selections are only a few of the many color-plate books among the holdings of the Crystal Bridges Library. These books are held in the restricted access area of our stacks, but if you are interested in viewing these or any of the other historical books in the collection, please just ask a librarian!