1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
The Free Library of Philadelphia houses an extensive research collection of children's literature from the 17th century to the present. This collection includes hard cover books, juvenile trade books, and advance reader copies. While the earliest of these books are housed in the Rare Book Department, over 85,000 items published after 1836 are gathered together in the Children's Literature Research Collection (CLRC). CLRC serves as an invaluable resource to individuals or classes with an interest in the history, study, and/or development of children’s literature. To make an appointment to view items from our collection, please contact us at CLRC@FreeLibrary.org. Please note that our collection is non-circulating.
The Children's Literature Research Collection is divided into several areas of interest:
The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books
The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books provides an overview of the changing pattern of children’s book illustration. Researchers will find books illustrated by innumerable well-known artists, such as Aliki, Marguerite de Angeli, Brian Floca, and Greg Pizzoli together with those by Caldecott-winners and honorees. For a list of illustrators found in the Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books, visit this link. Please note that this list is a living document and may change as the collection grows.
Reflecting the great shifts in children’s literature, this collection includes: classics, works by Newbery-winners and honorees, ALA Notable books, as well as other ALA award winners, such as the Seibert, the Stonewall, and the Pura Belpré winners and honorees. The collection also includes a broad scope of popular works from the past.
Historical Bibliography Collection
Adult-level resources about children’s literature, authors and illustrators of children’s materials, as well as information regarding public library service and bibliographies are found in this collection.
The series collection is noted for its large selection of Stratemeyer Syndicate works (i.e. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, et al.), books by Horatio Alger Jr., Golden Books, and many other fiction and some non-fiction series. We endeavor to collect variant printings of some series titles.
CLRC houses a sizable collection of books featuring stories and tales taken from the oral tradition. These works include myths, legends, folk tales, fairy tales, Märchen, customs, folk songs, Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes, and other genres from around the world in either individual or collective works.
Toy and Moveable Books Collection
A growing collection of books with toy and moveable features from the past century is housed within CLRC. This collection includes pop-up books, cloth and non-traditional materials.
Our archives are one of the largest collections of primary source material for children’s literature in the country. We house a range of original artwork, manuscripts, and ephemera from leaders in the world of children’s literature. This includes the works of Newbery winners such as Lloyd Alexander and Scott O’Dell, Caldecott winners such as Evaline Ness and Virginia Lee Burton, and contemporary authors such as Zachariah O’Hora and Angela Dominguez.
Many items from our archives have recently been rehoused. Until finding aids can be created for these pieces, please visit this link to see additional art holdings of the Children's Literature Research Collection. Please note that this list is a living document and may change as materials are digitized and placed in our Digital Collections.
Because of construction at the Parkway Central Library, a majority of the collection is currently housed off-site. Please email the department to make an appointment.
Many examples from our collections are available through our Digital Collections. These include the works of Lloyd Alexander, Virginia Lee Burton, and Katherine Milhous. Other special collections include the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Summer Reading Posters and the art of N. C. Wyeth. Many collections have not been digitized, and some collections have only been digitized in part. Please email the Children’s Literature Research Collection at CLRC@freelibrary.org with questions regarding our collections.
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Please support the Children's Literature Reserach Collection today. We depend on financial support to add new acquisitions to the collection, mount exhibitions, and care for the collection.