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Children's Literature

Children's literature and secondary works about children's literature are both collected by the Penn Library, first, as a form of literature with intrinsic value and interest; second, as a literary form taught within the contexts of literature and education classes; and third, as a body of critical literature with interests for students in many different fields. These materials are normally found in the various literature classifications in the Van Pelt stacks (including a significant portion at PZ, for fiction and juvenile belle lettres), as well as in Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Because children's literature (broadly defined) also deals with subjects -- history, biography, science, and so forth -- some children's books are found scattered in non-literary classifications, too. Materials that are either less frequently used are found in LIBRA, the Penn Libraries Research Annex in West Deptford, NJ.

A collection of children's books once housed together, the Illman-Carter Collection, is now dispersed to the general circulating stacks, Rare Books, and LIBRA. From 1904 to 1946, the Illman School for Children, directed by Miss Adelaide T. Illman and Mrs. Alice Carter Dickinson, existed at the corner of 40th and Walnut Street. In 1946, the school was incorporated into Penn's School of Education as the Illman-Carter Unit, forming the elementary education branch of the School. When the School of Education became a graduate school in 1965, the Illman-Carter Unit was disbanded. The Illman-Carter Library was incorporated into the Penniman Library, the library of the Graduate School of Education.

Although many of the books were absorbed directly into Penniman, the children's books presented a particular and unique group. With the death of Miss Illman in 1968, a group of the Illman alumnae contributed a sum of $800 to the Penniman Library for the formation of an appropriate memorial and the alcove in which the books were housed became the Illman-Carter Collection of Children's Literature in 1970. When the Penniman Library was merged into the general Van Pelt collections, the Illman-Carter Collection was housed in an alcove on the 2nd floor of Van Pelt until 2006. The majority of the books had been published during the 1920s and early 1930s and form a period collection in the history of children's literature. For a while, subsequent Caldecott and Newbery Award titles were added to the Illman-Carter Collection, but are now added to the general collection.

The most significant other resources for children's books in the Philadelphia area include the Free Library of Philadelphia, whose Children's Literature Research Collection, Illustrated Children's Books, and Early American Children's Books all have great historical strength and depth. At Princeton University, the resources of the Cotsen's Children's Library are remarkable.

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