A World Of Their Own: Children's Literature at the Armstrong Browning Library

The 2015 Baylor Libraries Symposium, “Alice at 150,” held October 6th through 9th, recognized the 150th anniversary of the publication of the children’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, authored by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson using the pen name Lewis Carroll.  When the symposium theme was announced, it brought to mind a project I had been considering for some time—an inventory of children’s literature held by the Armstrong Browning Library.  In the development of ABL’s book collection, children’s literature has never been a focus.  The only items actively collected in this area have been editions of Robert Browning’s poem “The Pied Piper of Hamelin.”  I knew, however, that other books for children were in the collection.  After extensive searches of the Baylor University Libraries’ Online Catalog, using keywords and subject headings related to literature for children, I was shocked at the number of titles located at the ABL.  In addition to the over 150 editions of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, I uncovered over 240 other children’s literature titles.  So, not only are we recognizing Lewis Carroll and 150 years of Alice, we are celebrating the discovery of a hidden collection by presenting this exhibition, A World of Their Own: Children’s Literature at the Armstrong Browning Library.

     Included among the books, tracts, and pamphlets in this exhibition are fables, children’s classics, poetry for children, children’s literature by famous authors, and instructional literature.  As the nineteenth century progressed and literacy achieved new heights, publishers began to recognize the financial benefits of providing books for children, particularly for the Christmas and Easter markets.  Children’s literature, as a genre, began to reach maturity.  The books offered for children began to include not only instructional materials, but some, like Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, that opened a world of nonsense, fantasy, or adventure—a world of their own—to the children of the period.

Cynthia A. Burgess, Librarian/Curator of Books & Printed Materials


Armstrong Browning Library, Digital Projects Group, Baylor University