The Parkway Central branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, (housed in a fabulous beaux-arts building on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway), holds a hidden gem – The Children’s Literature Research Collection. In addition to 85,000 children’s books and periodicals, the collection contains dozens of collections of papers from important writers and illustrators. The collection emphasizes juvenile books associated with the Pennsylvania region; books about human sexuality; serial fiction; folk literature; toy and moveable books.
Just fifty miles from Camden, Princeton University houses the Cotsen Children’s Library. The Cotsen Children’s Library is a division of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections at Princeton University Library. The collection contains illustrated children’s books, manuscripts, original artwork, prints, and educational toys from the 15th century to the present day.
Winterthur, located in Wilmington, Delaware, has a collection of more than 100,000 volumes in open stacks adjacent to the main reading room and about 20,000 rare American and European imprints in closed stacks. The collection focuses on the documentation of American household goods and their use, decorative arts and design, and the material culture of everyday life in America from the 17th through the early 20th centuries. See the website for information on travel and research grants.
This collection documents the social, economic, political, and physical development of the greater Philadelphia region throughout the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Records include day care centers, school board records, and material from the Philadelphia Society for services to children. The collection features many fine photograph collections, including the Children’s Country Week Association and the Bureau for Colored Children. The Urban Archives also houses an extensive collection of YWCA records.
The APS is America’s first learned society founded in the 18th century and attended by Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and Franklin. In addition to a museum and library, the APS houses an extensive manuscript collection that includes the papers of Charles Darwin, Franz Boas and Lydia Marie Child, among many others. The collections range from the mid-18th century to the present, with an emphasis on documenting anthropology and its subfields (ethnology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology), and the life sciences (evolutionary theory, genetics, eugenics, biochemistry, molecular biology, paleontology). SHCY members will find collections focused on child development, language acquisition, motor skills, and nutrition, including early records of institutes for “feeble-minded” and “crippled” children.
Internationally famous for its Peace Collection, the library extends far beyond a focus on Quaker history to document the history of American social reform. Quakers played prominent roles in almost every major reform movement in American history, including abolition, African-American history, Indian rights, women’s rights, prison reform, humane treatment of the mentally ill, and temperance. The collections also reflect the significant role Friends played in the development of science, technology, education, and business in Britain and America.
It is impossible to detail the many holdings of the HSP, which houses a collection that runs to over 600,000 books, pamphlets, serials, and microfilm reels; 20 million manuscripts; and over 300,000 graphics items. In 2002, HSP merged with the Balch Institute, making HSP an important repository of Ethnic Studies. Other collections that might interest SCHY members include the Children’s Aid Society of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Home for Infants Collection, The Home Missionary Society Collection and the records of the Institute for Colored Youth.