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Lois Lenski Collection



Scope and Contents

Administrative Information

Detailed Description


Dolls and Toys

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Lois Lenski Collection, circa 1850-1977 | Special Collections & Rare Books Room at Illinois State University

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Collection Overview

Title: Lois Lenski Collection, circa 1850-1977Add to your cart.

Primary Creator: Lenski, Lois, 1893-1974

Extent: 14.0 Linear Feet


The Lois Lenski Collection is arranged into two series by format: Manuscripts and Dolls and Toys. The Manuscripts series contains eighteen sub-series by general category beginning with Lenski's authored works and then sub-series containing correspondence, publishing and promotional materials, and secondary sources. Material related to specific works by Lenski is placed within a sub-series of the appropriate series (for example, material related to Strawberry Girl is found within Series 7: American Regional Series, sub-series 2: Strawberry Girl). Materials within each sub-series are arranged chronologically, and any undated material is arranged alphabetically. Illustrations are located at the end of the appropriate sub-series.

The Dolls and Toys series is roughly arranged by grouping dolls, doll accessories, and toys into separate boxes. This portion of the collection has been been digitized, and may be viewed on Milner Library's website through this link: Lois Lenski Doll Collection.

Subjects: Children's literature, American., Dolls--United States., Lenski, Lois, 1893-1974., Paper dolls--United States., Women authors, American.

Languages: English


The Lois Lenski Collection contains the professional papers and doll and toy collection of children's book author and illustrator Lois Lenski. Materials include drafts of books, original illustrations, scrapbooks, foreign language editions of books, research notes, promotional material, correspondence, sound recordings, illustrations for works written by other authors, articles, essays, autobiographical material, photographs, paper and three-dimensional dolls, and toys. Also included are three cubic feet of published monographs and journals containing a small amount of material by Lenski (for example, a book of poetry with only a single poem by Lenski).

Scope and Contents of the Materials

Series 1: Autobiographical Novels contains a promotional announcement related to Skipping Village.

Series 2: Early Picture Books contains materials related to Jack Horner's Pie (publisher's dummy and illustrations), Benny and his Penny (illustration), Johnny Goes to the Fair (illustration), Little Baby Ann (illustration), The Easter Rabbit's Parade (illustration), Susie Mariar (dummy made from printers proofs).

Series 3: Early Story Books contains materials related to Two Brothers and Their Baby Sister (illustration), Grandmother Tippytoe (illustrations), Arabella and Her Aunts (illustration), and A Brief History of the Pettigrew Family (original manuscript).

Series 4: Mr. Small Series contains materials related to The Little Auto (Arabic language editions), The Little Sail Boat (Arabic language edition), The Little Airplane (Arabic language edition), The Little Train (notes and sketches, Sinhalese language edition, Arabic language edition, and illustrations), The Little Farm (illustration), The Little Fire Engine (Arabic language edition), Cowboy Small (Burmese language edition, illustration), Papa Small (Burmese language edition), Songs of Mr. Small (illustration), Policeman Small (promotional sheet, publisher's press sheet, and stand-up cardboard promotional item), and promotional materials related to the series (booklets, songs, and a postcard).

Series 5: Historical Novels contains materials related to Phebe Fairchild: Her Book (illustration), Indian Captive (promotional material, narrative play adapted by Gertrude Breen, book jacket, typed manuscripts, and a play based on the book).

Series 6: Davy Books contains materials related to Animals for Me (original dummy, illustration, color overlays), Davy's Day (illustration), A Dog Came to School (braille edition, illustrations), Big Little Davy (illustration), Davy and His Dog (illustration), and Davy Goes Places (illustrations).

Series 7: American Regional Series contains materials related to Bayou Suzette (promotional material, Swedish language edition, illustration), Strawberry Girl (book jacket, bookmarks, recorded dramatization, illustration and promotional materials), Judy's Journey (book jacket), Boom Town Boy ("The story behind Boom Town Boy" and "Why I chose Oklahoma for the setting of Boom Town Boy" typed manuscripts), Cotton in my Sack (bookmarks, illustration), Prairie School (Thai-English bilingual edition), Mama Hattie's Girl  (illustrations), Corn-Farm Boy ("The Making of a Book" scrapbook, typed manuscript, handwritten manuscript, Sinhalese language edition, Bengali language edition), San Francisco Boy (Lois Lenski Book Club Scrapbook), Flood Friday (photograph, Flood at River Bend excerpt), Houseboat Girl (photo scrapbook, correspondence, research material, handwritten manuscripts, carbon manuscripts, original typed manuscript, sketches, letters to Lenski after publication, promotional material, and illustrations), Coal Camp Girl (original typed manuscript and illustration), The Shoo-Fly Girl (illustration), and miscellaneous material and illustrations.

Series 8: Other Picture Books contains material related to Forgetful Tommy (booklet), Let's Play House (illustration), and Mr. and Mrs. Noah (galley proofs, illustration, photographs of wood blocks which inspired the book).

Series 9: Seasons Series contains materials related to Spring is Here (original dummy, illustration), Now It's Fall (original dummy), On a Summer Day (original dummy, illustration) and audio material.

Series 10: Roundabout America Series contains material related to Peanuts for Billy Ben (book jacket), Little Sioux Girl (illustration), We Live by the River (illustration), We Live in the Country (Illustration), and We Live in the Southwest (illustration).

Series 11: Read-and-Sing Series contains material related to I Went for a Walk (illustration), At Our House (illustration and artist's overlay), and When I Grow Up (illustration and artist's overlay).

Series 12: Poetry and Short Stories contains material related to The Life I Live: Collected Poems (proofs and illustrations), Lois Lenski's Christmas Stories (illustrations), and City Poems (illustrations).

Series 13: Articles, Essays, and Autobiographies contains a photo scrapbook, articles, programs, two audio interviews, a photograph of Lenski, and a scrapbook of doll pictures.

Series 14: Plays contains three plays: The Bean Pickers, Strangers in a Strange Land, and  A Change of Heart.

Series 15: Illustrator contains illustrations and proofs for materials either not written by Lenski or not published, as well as ten unidentified illustrations.

Series 16: Correspondence contains a letter from Lenski to Bernard Meeks, correspondence with Milner Library, and selected fan letters written to Lenski.

Series 17: Publishing and Promotional Materials contains materials intended to promote Lenski's books (often created by publishers) and the text of a talk entitled "Are Your Books True."

Series 18: Secondary Sources contains published monographs and journals containing a small amount of material by Lenski (for example, a book of poetry with only a single poem by Lenski).

Collection Historical Note

Lois Lenski, 1893-1974, was a professional illustrator and author of books for children. Lenski wrote and illustrated nearly 100 of her books, and illustrated approximately fifty books for other authors. Lenski's books were written for very young children as well as older children and young adults. Lenski also published poetry, songs, and plays for children.

Lenski was born 14 October 1893 in Springfield, Ohio. Lenski graduated in 1915 from Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a teaching certificate, but chose to move to New York City to study at the Art Students League rather than teaching. Lenski illustrated works for other authors for some time, but eventually wrote and published her first book, Skipping Village, in 1927.

Lenski continued to write and illustrate books for children and young adults throughout her life. Lenski married muralist and illustrator Arthur Sinclair Covey, 1877-1960. Lenski died in September of 1974 at her home in Florida.

Subject/Index Terms

Children's literature, American.
Dolls--United States.
Lenski, Lois, 1893-1974.
Paper dolls--United States.
Women authors, American.

Administrative Information

Repository: Special Collections & Rare Books Room at Illinois State University

Use Restrictions: Illinois State University owns, or has authority to manage, the materials in the Milner Library Special Collections Department as well as the copyright to only a few of these materials. In some instances, however, the materials may be subject to copyrights and other proprietary rights that belong to a third party. The researcher is solely responsible for obtaining necessary permissions.

Related Materials:

Lois Lenski's materials are located in a wide range of institutions across the United States. Patrons may wish to consult ArchiveGrid for assistance locating additional archival material related to Lenski and her work.

The Lois Lenski Doll Collection can be viewed online at http://digital.library.illinoisstate.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15990coll7

Related Publications: A Guide to the Graphic, Scrapbook, and Secondary Source Materials in the Milner Library Lois Lenski Collection is available. This guide provides captions and descriptive terms for the illustrations found in the collection. The guide is available as a free pdf and can be downloaded from http://ir.library.illinoisstate.edu/fpml/72/

Box and Folder Listing

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Manuscripts],
[Series 2: Dolls and Toys],

Series 2: Dolls and ToysAdd to your cart.
This portion of the collection has been been digitized, and may be viewed on Milner Library's website through this link: Lois Lenski Doll Collection.

Browse by Series:

[Series 1: Manuscripts],
[Series 2: Dolls and Toys],

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