Profiles in Literature

By Chris B. RSS Tue, April 25, 2023

The Free Library of Philadelphia has some wonderful resources for people researching the history of children's literature in America. With just a library card, several databases are available to help you learn more about the creators of your favorite children's books. Something About the Author is a biographical examination of the lives and works of authors and illustrators for children and young adults. The database spans more than 217 volumes, 12,000 entries, and nearly 17,000 images! Biography in Context is an international biographical database that examines the lives of over 600,000 individuals across all disciplines and subject areas. And Contemporary Authors provides a concise packet of information on nearly 200,000 individuals. 

Profiles in Literature is joining these resources. The locally-produced series delivers first-hand accounts directly from the authors and illustrators themselves. Profiles in Literature is invaluable as a primary source because viewers can hear the interviewed person's thoughts and inspirations; the recorded conversational format contextualizes the motivations of the interviewees by conveying information with the original tone and cadence of the conversation.

Each video is approximately 30 minutes and can be accessed online. The Children's Literature Research Collection's location page has a link to Profiles in Literature under "Research Support." Bookmark the CLRC location page for quick access to databases and other resources that we recommend for research help. For more casual viewing, all the videos are also uploaded into a chronological playlist on YouTube

The interviews were conducted by Dr. Jaqueline Shachter Weiss (1926-2021) and Carolyn Wicker Field (1916-2010). Dr. Shachter Weiss was a Temple University Associate Professor-Emerita of children's literature and remains a well-known local figure in the field. She served as a board member for the Philadelphia Children's Reading Round Table, and was honored with the Children's Literature Citation in 1988. The Children's Literature Citation was established in 1963 by the Free Library of Philadelphia and Drexel University, and is awarded to authors, illustrators, publishers, and others who have made outstanding contributions to the field of children’s literature. The recipient must hail from Philadelphia or have contributed significantly to literature for children in the Philadelphia area.

Carolyn Wicker Field was a long-time staff member at the Free Library of Philadelphia, serving in the library's Office of Work with Children for over 30 years. She was a former president of the U.S. section of the International Board on Books for Young People, was involved with the Association for Library Service to Children, a Division of the American Library Association. In 1974, she was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania by Governor Milton Shapp, and in 1983 the Pennsylvania Library Association created a named award in her honor.

We hope you'll enjoy viewing Profiles in Literature. It's an exciting addition to our growing collection of educational resources!

Digital copies of Profiles in Literature were a gift from Scott Shachter, in memory of Dr. Jaqueline Shachter Weiss, EdD.

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