Browse Exhibits (4 total)

Alphabet Books

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The items in this exhibit are examples 19th Century alphabet books. While we take the existence of alphabet books for granted in the present day, they are actually a 19th century invention, and reflect the various changes in cultural and religious attitudes toward children that occurred during the course of the century. For historical context, please visit the page containing an overview of Alphabet Books, a page explaining the Puritian Influence, and how they became secularlized.


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When we look at these digitized books of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and more, we are inspired to take a deeper look at the differences between readers of these stories today, and who was reading them in the past. The latter obviously changes in the intermediary years, as the development of children became more prominent and studied. There are social, economic, and political conditions that affect literacy, childhood, and what kinds of stories were consumed in any given time period.

This exhibit provides an overview of the 19th century context in which these fairytales were produced. In addition, because of the wealth of copies of Cinderella, there is contextual information on Cinderella available. For further resources and information, please visit the LibGuide on Fairytales.

Fear and Morality

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Stories are more than entertainment; in every culture, throughout history, stories are educational. They define who we (as a culture) think we are--what we’ve done and what we value. Children’s stories are especially exemplary of this, because the first stories we tell our children take root in their minds most firmly, and, consequently, often impart our most fundamental values. With the value-prevalence of children’s stories in mind, and considering that Victorian England is known for its puritanical views of morality, I decided to seek themes of frightening children into moral behavior. 

Included in this exhibit are an overview of frightening children into morality in a historical context, a narrative on the history of Little Red Riding Hood, and ten digitized books from the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections' Historical Children's collection. For further resources and information, please visit the LibGuide on Fear and Morality.

Race and Otherness

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For centuries, minorities have been represented through simplistic, stereotyped caricatures. Children's literature is no exception. The books in this collection highlight just a few of these representations. The story of Little Black Sambo is presented as an example of the complexities of racial depictions throughout the last century. This website also provides an overview of the history and controversy surrounding Little Black Sambo, a list of useful resources, and suggested discussion questions.