Children's Literature Research Collection

Monday, March 12 – Message from Staff

The majority of material housed in the Children's Literature Research Collection are housed off-site.  To make an appointment to view these materials, please contact us.  

1901 Vine Street, Room 213
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Open today 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sunday Closed
Monday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Wednesday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Thursday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Friday 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Saturday Closed

Upcoming Closures

  • Mon., Jun. 19 : Closed Juneteenth
  • Tue., Jul. 4 : Closed Independence Day
  • Mon., Sep. 4 : Closed Labor Day
  • Mon., Oct. 9 : Closed Indigenous Peoples' Day
View all holiday closings

Upcoming Events

Hands on History: Mapping (More) Imagination

Thu, July 13, 2023 6:00 P.M.

Have you seen the exhibition Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building and want to learn more? Now’s your chance with this hands-on event featuring materials that were considered (but…

Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building

Now through Fri, July 28, 2023 5:00 P.M.

The Free Library’s newest exhibition, Mapping Imagination: The Art of World-Building explores the creative and artistic choices that mapmakers use to build worlds and enhance storytelling.…

Beauty on the Horizon: The Art of Landscapes

Now through Fri, July 28, 2023 5:00 P.M.

Landscapes are more than pictures—they are representations of the world around us, an artist’s interpretation of time and place. These interpretations evoke mood through medium, style,…



The Free Library of Philadelphia’s Children’s Literature Research Collection (CLRC) is one of the premier centers for the study of children’s literature in the United States.  The Children’s Literature Research Collection promotes the history and study, and development of children’s literature.  The Collection houses a repository of over 85,000 works of children’s literature and an archive of original artwork, manuscripts, and ephemera.  The Children's Literature Research Collection engages the public about the importance of children’s literature in our culture and our society; expands the knowledge base of our patrons through research support; and fosters new ideas through displays and exhibitions. 


The Children's Literature Research Collection is open by appointment only. All questions or inquiries can be made via email at: Please note: materials in the Children's Literature Research Collection are non-circulating. Scroll to the section "Research Support" (at the bottom of this page) to see suggestions for other research resources.


The Children's Literature Research Collection is divided into several areas of interest. Click here for a printable copy of our fact sheet. 

  • The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books
    • The Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books provides an overview of the changing pattern of children’s book illustration.  Researchers will find books illustrated by well-known artists, such as Aliki, Marguerite de Angeli, Brian Biggs, and Angela Dominguez together with those by Caldecott-winners and honorees. For a list of illustrators found in the Kathrine H. McAlarney Collection of Illustrated Children’s Books, visit this link.  Please note that this list is a living document and may change as the collection grows.  
  • Historical Collection
    • Reflecting the great shifts in children’s literature, this collection includes:  classics, works by Newbery-winners and honorees, ALA Notable books, as well as other ALA award winners, such as the Seibert, the Stonewall, and the Pura Belpré winners and honorees.  The collection also includes a broad scope of popular works from the past.
  • Historical Bibliography Collection
    • Adult-level resources about children’s literature, authors and illustrators of children’s materials, as well as information regarding public library service and bibliographies are found in this collection.
  • Series Collection
    • The series collection is noted for its large selection of Stratemeyer Syndicate works (i.e. Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, et al.), books by Horatio Alger Jr., Golden Books, and many other fiction and some non-fiction series.  We endeavor to collect variant printings of some series titles.
  • Folklore Collection
    • CLRC houses a sizable collection of books featuring stories and tales taken from the oral tradition.  These works include myths, legends, folk tales, fairy tales, Märchen, customs, folk songs, Mother Goose and other nursery rhymes, and other genres from around the world in either individual or collective works. 
  • Toy and Moveable Books Collection
    • A growing collection of books with toy and moveable features from the past century is housed within CLRC.  This collection includes pop-up books, cloth and non-traditional materials.
  • CLRC Archives
    • Our archives are one of the largest collections of primary source material for children’s literature in the country.  We house a range of original artwork, manuscripts, and ephemera from leaders in the world of children’s literature.  This includes the works of Newbery winners such as Lloyd Alexander and Scott O’Dell, Caldecott winners such as Evaline Ness and Virginia Lee Burton, and contemporary authors such as Zachariah O’Hora, Donna Dephart, and Angela Dominguez.  Finding Aids have been created for many of our larger collections.   


Many examples from our collections are available through our Digital Collections.  Please email the Children’s Literature Research Collection at with questions regarding our collections.  To request high-resolution images of digitized images complete the Reproduction Request Form found on the Reproduction Services webpage.


Research Databases

When researching an author or illustrator, we suggest using these databases, as found in the Free Library of Philadelphia's Database hub.  A library card may be required to access these links.  

  • America's Obituaries & Death Notices: A collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices from around the country.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • AP Images: Current photos & a selection of pictures/images from the 50 million print & negative library of photographs at the Associated Press. Search for a picture/image of your favorite author/illustrator.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • AskArt: Extensive information about over 120,000 artists from around the world.
    • Available at Parkway Central Library only; please see the Art Department for access. 
  • Biography in Context: Comprehensive online biographical reference database containing 414,000 biographies.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Contemporary Authors: A bio-bibliographical guide to current writers in fiction, general nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, motion pictures, television, and other fields.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Historical Newspapers: Black Newspaper Collection: Primary source material from ten historic Black newspapers, including the Chicago Defender, The Baltimore Afro-American, New York Amsterdam News, Pittsburgh Courier, Los Angeles Sentinel, Atlanta Daily World, and the Cleveland Call and Post.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Something About the Author: Digital version of the popular biographical resource on writers.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 
  • Student Resources in Context:  Primary documents, biographies, topical essays, background information, critical analyses, full-text coverage of 800 magazines, photographs and illustrations, audio and video clips.
    • Available to all Free Library locations and online with your library card. 

Special Collections

Those interested in researching children's literature may also find the resources available within the Rare Book Department. The collection is home to historical collections of children's books including the works of Beatrix Potter, Arthur Rackham, and Robert Lawson.  

Click here to learn more about the Free Library’s other special collections and resources. 

Finding Aids

A finding aid is a guide to an archival collection. Finding aids include information about the collection's creator(s) and subject matter, and describe the content, date, and format of the documents in a collection. A finding aid also details the collection's arrangement. Finding aids include information for researchers about how to access and use the collection, and how it should be cited. Finding Aids have been created for many of larger archival holdings.  The list is not exhaustive and the creation of finding aids is an ongoing project.  Please email us at if you have additional questions.  

Research Departments at Parkway Central Library

Depending on you research needs, you may also be interested in visiting the Research Departments and Circulating Departments at Parkway Central Library:

  • The Art Department holds an extensive selection of files on artists, as well as the architecture of Philadelphia.
  • The Central Children's Department has a vast collection of modern children's books available for circulation and an active staff that offers programs for a variety of age ranges. 
  • The Education Philosophy and Religion Department maintains a historic collection of pamphlets about education, historic churches, libraries, and more.
  • The Newspaper and Microfilm Center contains over 400 newspapers dating back to 1720, as well as city and telephone directories dating back to 1785 on microfilm. Many indexes and frequently asked questions can be found here.
  • The Social Science and History Department holds local history books and maintains file collections pertaining to Philadelphia history, local biographies, and more.

General Research

The links below may be useful for those wanting to learn more about the history of hhildren's literature:

  • Children's Literature Citation: This list documents the receipients of the Free Library of Philadelphia/Drexel University's Children’s Literature Citation and includes a brief biography of the winners.  
  • Profiles in Literature: Profiles in Literature is a series of half-hour interviews with leading authors, illustrators, and editors of children’s books, originally recorded on video cassette starting in 1969. Programs were first viewed in Temple University’s Children’s Literature classes. Digital copies of these videos were a gift from Scott Shachter, in memory of Dr. Jaqueline Shachter Weiss, EdD.

Book Lists

Looking for more?  Check out the book lists below for more specialized topics:

  • All About Zines: Are zines your thing? Are you looking to make them for fun (or profit)? Check out these resources for all things zine-related. 
  • The Art of the Book: This is an ongoing list created by the Art Department to bring attention to a wide range of titles within the Library’s collection specifically pertaining to the art of the book. Titles include modern and antiquated texts (some printed over 100 years ago).Topics related to book arts with regard to printmaking, typography, reproducible media, types of paper, etc.
  • Artists' Books and the Book Production Process: This list was created by the Art Department for several visiting classes from Tyler School of Art and the University of the Arts with a shared focus on commercially published artist's books and offset lithography; the list includes examples of rare or unique art, printing multiple copies, and assembling books using a variety of processes
  • Resources for Authors: Do you want to write a book? Where do you start? Check out these resources for handy tips on becoming an author!
  • Resources for Illustrators: Are you interested in illustrating a book? If so, check out this list of books that will help you hone your craft!
  • Exhibition Related Book Lists:


Please support the Children's Literature Research Collection today. We depend on financial support to add new acquisitions to the collection, mount exhibitions, and care for the collection.