Early Children's Literature Collection

Credo digital

Publishers in Western Massachusetts engaged in a brisk trade in books intended for children during the antebellum years, producing chapbooks to teach reading, didactic works on morals and comportment, and toy books for reward and entertainment. Brief and often simply produced, these books are easily recognized for their diminutive size, stock woodcut illustrations, and characteristic moralistic tone, but they are rich sources for understanding popular conceptions of childhood, education, religious life, and marketing in the book trade, as well subjects.

The majority of the works in the Early Children's Literature collection were products of the antebellum press in western Massachusetts, produced and distributed by printers such as John Metcalf (Wendell and Northampton), Anson Phelps (Greenfield), and A. R. Merrifield (Northampton). There are examples of chapbooks from other printers, most notably Mahlon Day of New York and the American Sunday School Union in Philadelphia.

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Background

The New Picture Book (1837)

The New Picture Book (1837)

Publishers in Western Massachusetts engaged in a brisk trade in books intended for children during the antebellum years, producing chapbooks to teach reading, didactic works on morals and comportment, and toy books for reward and entertainment.

Brief and often simply produced, these books are easily recognized for their diminutive size, stock woodcut illustrations, and characteristic moralistic tone, but they are rich sources for understanding popular conceptions of childhood, education, religious life, and marketing in the book trade, as well subjects. In most cases they were simply and cheaply produced, usually issued in illustrated wrappers and center sewn.

Contents of Collection

The majority of the works in the Early Children's Literature collection were products of the antebellum press in western Massachusetts, produced and distributed by printers such as John Metcalf (Wendell and Northampton), J. H. Butler (Northampton), Anson Phelps (Greenfield), and A. R. Merrifield (Northampton). The collection includes examples of chapbooks from other printers, most notably Mahlon Day of New York and the American Sunday School Union in Philadelphia.

As simply produced as they were, the chapbooks in this collection can be quite complex bibliographically. To begin with, publishers regularly borrowed and stole from one another so that one title can appear in numerous variants: textually, the Metcalf and Phelps editions of Spring flowers are nearly identical, though laid out quite differently. Moreover, individual publishers reprinted titles as demand dictated, with variant editions not always clearly distinguished.

Most notably, the illustrations present a bibliographic challenge. Since printers purchased printing blocks in lots from wholesalers, the same illustration can appear in books by different publishers and put to different ends, while a single publisher may substitute illustrations within a single title quite eclectically, and not always aligned to the meaning of the text: the 1840 edition of John Metcalf's Red Squirrel rather logically features an illustration of squirrel on the front wrapper, however the 1837 edition includes a temperance image of a man with a glass of water, standing by a well. The text can vary from edition to edition of what is ostensibly the same work: compare the Wendell and Northampton editions of Metcalf's A,B,C, with pictures and verses.

Collection inventory
American Sunday-School Union
1827
American Sunday-School Union: The glass of gin ; or, when it is safest to run. -- When it is safest to run. Philadelphia :American Sunday-School Union
1827
24p.
PZ6 .G533
Daniels, George Pond
1845
Daniels, George Pond (Providence, R. I.): Nine pleasing tales for children : [four lines of verse]. Providence [R.I.] : Geo. P. Daniels
1845
16p.
PZ6 .N62 1845
Day, Mahlon (New York, N.Y.)
1825-1830
Day, Mahlon: Book of riddles. : [Four lines of verse]. New-York :M. Day
1825
8p.
PZ6 .B66 1825
Day, Mahlon: The History of curious and wonderful beasts. New-York :M. Day
1825
16p.
PZ6 .H57
Day, Mahlon: The Scripture alphabet in verse. : [Four lines from 2 Tim. iii. 15]. :M. Day
1830
16p.
PZ6 .S275 1830
Denio and Phelps (Greenfield, Mass.)
1821
Phelps, Ansel: Poems: moral and religious for children and youth by the father of a family. Greenfield [Mass.] : A. Phelps
1821
30p.
Massachusetts Sabbath School Society
1839
Massachusetts Sabbath School Society: Ellen asking about prayer. Boston :Mass. Sabbath School Society
1839
8p.
PZ6 .E45 1839
McLoughlin Brothers (New York, N.Y.)
1894
McLoughlin Bros.: Monkey tricks. New-York : McLoughlin Bros
1894
14p.
PZ5.3 .M6 1894
Merrifield, A. R. (Northampton, Mass.)
1842
Merrifield, A. R.: The seasons. Northampton, [Mass.] : A. R. Merrifield
1842
10p.
PZ6.S43 1842
Merrifield, A. R.: Poetic present. Northampton [Mass.] : A. R. Merrifield
1842
10p.
PZ6 .P65 1842
Metcalf, John (Wendell and Northampton, Mass.)
1830-1845
Metcalf, John: A, B, C, with pictures and verses. Wendell, Mass. : J. Metcalf
1830
8p.
PZ6 .A2 1830
Metcalf, John: A, B, C, with pictures and verses. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .A2 1837
Metcalf, John: Book of letters. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .B655 1837
Metcalf, John: Duties of children. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1836
18p.
PZ6 .D88 1836
Metcalf, John, and J. H. Butler: The good boy. Northampton : John Metcalf
1839
18p.
PZ6 .G5909 1839
Metcalf, John: The good girl. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1837
18p.
PZ6 .G66 1837
Metcalf, John: The good girl. Northampton, Mass. : J. Metcalf
1840
18p.
PZ6 .G66 1840z
Metcalf, John: The good girl. Northampton : John Metcalf
1842
18p.
PZ6 .G66 1842
Metcalf, John: The good girl. Northampton : John Metcalf
1845
18p.
PZ6 .G66 1845
Metcalf, John: Juvenile poems - Wrapper title: Shepherd boy. Wendell, Mass. : John Metcalf
1832
18p.
PZ6 .J99 1832
Metcalf, John: Lessons for Laura. Northampton :John Metcalf
1836
24p.
PZ6 .L49 1836
Metcalf, John; and J. H. Butler: Little Harry, and the apples. Northampton : John Metcalf
1836
18 p.
PZ6 .L582 1837
Metcalf, John: The little present for a good child. Wendell, Mass. : John Metcalf
1832
8p.
PZ6 .L583 1832
Metcalf, John: A little present. Northampton, [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .L583 1837
Metcalf, John: Little rhymes for little readers. Northampton :John Metcalf
1836
18p.
PZ6 .L585 1836
Metcalf, John: Little verses, for good children. Wendell, Mass. : John Metcalf
1831
8p.
PZ6 .H6244 1831
Metcalf, John: Little verses, for good children. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1833
8p.
PZ6 .H6244 1833
Metcalf, John: Little verses for good children. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1840
8p.
PZ6 .H6244 1840
Metcalf, John: New picture-book. Northampton :John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .N59 1837
Metcalf, John: The red squirrel. Northampton [Mass.] : John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .R4 1837
Metcalf, John: The red squirrel. Northampton [Mass.]. : John Metcalf
1840
8p.
PZ6 .R4 1840
Metcalf, John: The shepherd boy. Wendell, Mass. : John Metcalf
1832
18p.
PZ6 .S54 1832
Metcalf, John: Spring flowers, or, Easy lessons for young children -- Easy lessons for young children. -- Spring flowers. Wendell, Mass. : John Metcalf
1831
23p.
PZ6 .S67 1831
Turner, Elisha: Stories from the Bible. Northampton, [Mass.] : Elisha Turner
1840
18p.
PZ6 .S758 1840z
Metcalf, John: A story for Charles. Northampton, Mass. : John Metcalf
1837
8p.
PZ6 .S76 1837
Phelps, Ansel (Greenfield, Mass.)
1835-1849
Phelps, Ansel: Little George and his hatchet, or, The book of pictures. -- Book of pictures. -- George and his hatchet. Greenfield [Mass.] : A. Phelps
1847
26p.
PZ6 .L58 1847
Phelps, Ansel: Little George and his hatchet, or, The book of pictures. -- Book of pictures. -- Little George and his hatchet. Greenfield [Mass.] : A. Phelps
1849
26p.
PZ6 .L58 1849
Phelps, Ansel: Milk for babes. Greenfield [Mass.]. : A. Phelps
1846
18p.
Phelps, Ansel: The Miller's wife. Greenfield [Mass.]. : A. Phelps
1844
24p.
PZ6 .M55 1846
Phelps, Ansel: My little book. Greenfield [Mass.] : A. Phelps
1845
10p.
PZ6 .M9 1845
The soldier turned farmer. Greenfield [Mass.] : A. Phelps
1835
10p.
PZ6 .S64 1835
Phelps, Ansel: Spring flowers, or easy lessons for young children. Greenfield [Mass.]. : A. Phelps
1847
26p.
Shepley, S. and C. (Fitchburg, Mass.)
1846
Cummings, A. I. et al.: The teacher's parting gift, or, Advice to the young on the subject of education and the formation of a virtuous character . Fitchburg, Mass. : S. and C. Shepley
1846
62p.
LB1556 .C85 1846
Turner, Elisha (Northampton, Mass.)
1800
Turner, Elisha: The primrose. Northampton [Mass.] : E. Turner
1800
18p.
PZ6 .P75 1800z
Werden, Elias Irish (Pittsfield, Mass.)
1847-1848
Werden, Elias Irish: The Child's picture book. Pittsfield, Mass. : E. Werden
1847
8p.
PZ6 .C45 1848
Werden, Elias Irish: A Story book about birds. : [Five lines of verse]. Pittsfield, Mass. : E. Werden
1848
8p.
PZ6 .S759 1848
Wood, Silas (New York, N.Y.)
1810
A New-Years gift. New-York :S. Wood
1810
32p.
PZ6 .N49 1810

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Acquired variously.

Related material

SCUA contains chapbooks and other materials produced by chapbook publishers in its general rare book collections and in the Rural Massachusetts Imprints Collection (RB 012).

Digitized content

A number of the chapbooks have been digitized and may be viewed online through SCUA's digital repository, Credo.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, Nov. 2017.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Early Children's Literature Collection (RB 017). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Children's literature--Massachusetts
  • Toy and moveable books

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Metcalf, John, 1788-1864

Genre terms

  • Books