This is the second of a series of blog posts highlighting our NHPRC-sponsored project: Twentieth Century Children’s Literature: Exploring the Past, Understanding the Present. Previous posts can be found here.
Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to announce the publication of a newly revised finding aid for the Kurt Werth papers (Coll 100). The finding aid is available on Archives West.
The Kurt Werth papers represent a major portion of Werth’s body of work produced as an illustrator and author of American children’s literature. The collection is comprised of original children’s book illustrations and manuscripts, other artwork and manuscripts, personal papers, artifacts, personal and professional correspondence, and papers of his wife, Margaret Werth.
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.
Special Collections and University Archives is currently processing and writing a finding aid for the Quincy Scott collection of twentieth century political cartoons (GA Sc 85). This project was generously supported through an LSTA grant and will also include digitization of a selection of cartoons through the assistance of UO Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Services. This archival and digital collection will provide access to Oregonian political and social perspectives during the Great Depression and World War II through the humor and wit of political caricature. A future blog post will announce when the collection is fully processed and available to the public.
Portland resident Quincy Scott (1882-1965) was the editorial cartoonist for The Oregonian from 1931-1949 and this collection includes original artwork produced during his tenure at the newspaper, comprised of over 4,600 almost daily political cartoons. Scott was a faithful member of the Republican Party and his cartoons strongly reflect his personal stance on local, national, and international political topics, though Scott’s son/biographer notes that these opinions did not always fully align with those of the newspaper’s general editorial team. These cartoons illustrate early twentieth century life and politics in Oregon and will be particularly of interest to those researching the history of critical or conservative receptions of Depression-era legislation. Some of Scott’s frequently illustrated subjects will be highlighted in this post.