In September 2019, SCUA began working on a new project: Twentieth Century Children’s Literature: Exploring the Past, Understanding the Present. This project is generously supported by a two-year grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), a division of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
This project will greatly improve access to the collections of three prominent children’s literature authors: Kurt Wiese, Edwin Tunis, and Kurt Werth. The goals of this project are to:
- rehouse manuscript material and original illustrations
- update associated finding aids to current standards
- mount online and local exhibitions promoting the historical significance of the material
The collections identified for this grant represent a core strength in the University of Oregon’s holdings, with broad appeal that reflects upon the American experience during and after the two World Wars. Children’s literature, which often flies under the cultural radar, is a fascinating rubric through which one can understand the ideological tenor of a society. Our collective values, for better or worse, are mirrored back to us in the stories and lessons of our children. Twentieth century children’s literature echoes the radical changes that occurred in American society: at times celebratory, optimistic, and inclusive; and alternately vexing and racist, presenting a white-washed and Eurocentric account of American history.