Discovering a “Hidden” Collection of Children’s Literature at the Armstrong Browning Library

By Cynthia A. Burgess, Librarian/Curator of Books & Printed Materials, Armstrong Browning Library, Baylor University

Jack and the Bean Stalk

Hallam Tennyson. Jack and the Bean-Stalk. English Hexameters. Illustrated by Randolph Caldecott. London: Macmillan and Co., 1886.

During the fall of 2015 the Baylor University Libraries held a symposium, “Alice at 150,” recognizing the 150th anniversary of the publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland.  In conjunction with the symposium, I curated an exhibition called “A World of Their Own: Children’s Literature at the Armstrong Browning Library.”

Working on the exhibit gave me the opportunity to do something I wanted to do for a long time — identify items of children’s literature included in the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) collections.  Although the ABL has never purposefully collected children’s literature, with the exception of editions of Robert Browning’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin, I knew that we had this type of literature scattered throughout our holdings.  After extensive searches of the Baylor University Libraries’ Online Catalog using keywords and subject headings related to literature for children, I was shocked at the number of titles located at the ABL.  In addition to the over 150 editions of The Pied Piper of Hamelin, I uncovered over 240 other children’s literature titles.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Mark Twain. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Hartford, Conn.: Chicago, Ill.: Cincinnati, Ohio: The American Publishing Co.; San Francisco, Cal.: A. Roman & Co., 1876. First American edition.

During the summer of 2016, Eric Ames, Curator of Digital Collections for the Baylor University Digital Projects Group, created an online exhibit based on the physical exhibition “A World of Their Own: Children’s Literature at the Armstrong Browning Library.” At about the same time, the catalogers in the Baylor University Libraries Delivery Services department worked on linking all the bibliographic records in the online catalog for ABL children’s literature titles by using one simple title search — ABL Children’s Literature Collection.

Now, both an online version of the exhibition and a link to bibliographic records of the larger ABL collection can be found here. Use the right-hand navigation area on the exhibition home page to view the different parts of the exhibit:  Lewis Carroll — Fables — Classics of Children’s Literature — Poetry for Children — Children’s Literature by Famous Authors — Instructional Literature for Children.  And, click on the final link — Learn More . . . — to see a list of all 422 records which describe the variety of materials in the newly-discovered, no longer “hidden,” ABL Children’s Literature Collection.


Kate Greenaway. Kate Greenaway’s Alphabet. London and New York: George Routledge & Sons, [1885?]. First edition.