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Children’s Literature Collection
A collection of primarily American and British children’s literature and related archival materials from the late 18th century to the present
The stories that a society tells its children reveal a great deal about what the culture values, and about its conception of childhood — and adulthood, for that matter. Moreover, many works of children’s literature are also important as works of art and design, and well as reflections of historical trends and the impacts of new technologies.
As noted by emeritus curator William Gosling, who led the U-M Library from 1997 to 2005, "the collection complements a variety of disciplines and supports research and coursework in literature, information science, and art and design — among others.”
Areas of strength in the U-M Special Collections Library’s Children’s Literature Collection include:
- Michigan authors and illustrators
Archives and/or artwork of authors and illustrators include Joan Blos, Nancy Willard, Tom Pohrt, Rod Ruth, Richard Andrew Parker, Ed Emberley, Hardie Gramatky, Alice Provensen and Gijsbert van Frankenhuysen. Additionally, the archival component of the Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection includes correspondence and artwork by many authors and illustrators
- Midwest publishers, especially in Michigan, Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin. Examples include Saalfield Publishing Company (Akron, OH), Rand McNally (Chicago, IL), and Samuel Lowe (Kenosha, WI)
- Newbery and Caldecott medal winners
Picture books and fictional works that reflect the influence of changing media and technology (e.g. television, film, transportation, etc.) - for example, books prominently featuring trains or airplanes
- Pop-up books in the William A. Gosling Pop-up and Movable Book Collection
- Changing interpretations of classic fairy tales and particularly the impact of “Disneyfication,” - for example, illustrated editions of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast
British children's chapter books, such as 19th century boys' adventure stories by George Alfred “G.A.” Henty
The U-M Library also has a large circulating collection of children’s literature, which is housed at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library.
History of Medicine
- incunabula — books printed before 1501
- early editions of medical classics and anatomy texts
- one of the most complete collections on the history and development of homeopathy, much of which has been digitized
- medical “fugitive sheets” — the Renaissance version of a pop-up book that allowed for the study of different layers of the body
- a collection of magical amulets dating from 100-500 C.E.
- Among the notable works is, for example, Andreas Vesalius’s first edition of De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem, published in 1543. Vesalius, who is considered the father of modern anatomy, made sure that his exhaustive knowledge of anatomy was presented in a luxurious book format. Indeed, profusely illustrated with detailed woodcuts by Jan Stephan van Calcar, an artist of Titian’s school, this work represents the shift toward the study of anatomy by means of the dissection and direct observation of the human body.
History of Astronomy
A collection of materials on astronomy dating from the second century through the 'golden age' of celestial cartography
If you simply want to read a historical astronomy text, you may be able to find it online, digitized and translated into English. But to fully experience the physical splendor of the documents, you’ll need to make a visit to the library.
Peggy Daub, curator of the history of astronomy collection, says, “We are one of the few institutions in the world to have all the important early works in astronomy covered, including hundreds of pre-1800 publications.”
The Galileo Manuscript, written 1609-1610, is among the great treasures of the University of Michigan Library. One of the top ten items requested from Special Collections, it is also the most frequently reprinted, appearing in textbooks and on the web, including on the NASA website. The document, written in his own hand, describes and illustrates Galileo’s discovery of the four moons of Jupiter.
Daub says, “The Galileo manuscript is a rare and valuable holding and it gets students excited about the subject. I’m often invited to speak to beginning astronomy students, and the manuscript is part of the talk. Physics classes use it, too, and when Michigan Math and Science Scholars visit, it’s part of our show-and-tell.”
While the greatest strength of the history of astronomy collection is the depth and breadth of its material, the Galileo manuscript is one among its many sparkling gems.
The library owns all of the “big four” star atlases that came out of Europe’s golden age of celestial cartography: the Atlas Coelestis of John Flamsteed, the Uranometria of Johann Bayer (1603), the Firmamentum Sobiescianum sive Uranographia of Johannes Hevelius (1690) and the Uranographia of Johann Elert Bode (1801) — two of which were fairly recent aquisitions made possible with the support of library endowments.
To look back even further, you can examine an Egyptian papyrus containing an astrological treatise, written in Greek around the second century C.E., that predicts the movement of Mars.
Daub points out that the astronomy collection has significant overlap with the History of Mathematics collection. For example, the library owns a rare first edition by Copernicus (1543) that puts forth his theory that the earth moves around the sun, a theory he supported with mathematics since it couldn’t be proven by observation.
The mathematics collection also includes more than 100 editions of The Elements of Euclid, spanning five centuries and many languages. An edition by Oliver Byrne published in 1847 is one of the first examples of the use of color to elucidate mathematical concepts.
913 S. University Avenue
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Hours listed are for the reference collection only. If you wish to view papyrus, please check the exhibit page or schedule a class tour. Please note that since we have limited staffing and limited space, it is best to e-mail or call ahead in case of unexpected schedule conflicts. Thank you.
A world-renowned collection of ancient texts and documents dating from about 1,000 BCE to 1,000 CE
The University of Michigan Library is home to the largest collection of ancient papyri in North America. The documents in the Papyrology Collection, which span roughly 2,000 years, contain not only important religious texts — including 60 pages of the oldest known copy of the Epistles of Paul — but also personal letters, school primers, sales contracts and other records that paint a unique portrait of everyday life. Of the 18,000 pieces in the collection, about 5,000 have never been studied and translated, and continue to attract scholars from across the country and around the world.
The collection also continues to draw hundreds of visitors each year, including K-12 students, undergraduate and graduate students, and religious groups interested in the early artifacts of their faith.
“Reading Plato is great, but here you can see and touch pieces of the ancient world,” says collection manager Monica Tsuneishi. Along with texts written on papyrus, the collection also includes documents written on wood and wax tablets.
The roots of the collection go back almost a century to Francis Willey Kelsey, a professor of Latin at U-M, who believed students would benefit from studying historical objects directly. Kelsey traveled through Europe and Middle East purchasing items for the university and later organized excavations in Egypt and elsewhere.
Unlike most antiquarians of his day, Kelsey insisted on the recording of the precise locations where artifacts and documents were found inside each building, especially in Karanis — an ancient town in Egypt excavated by U-M between 1924 and 1935. As a result, many items in the U-M collection include additional clues about the context in which they were used.
The collection presents a wealth of possibilities for original research by both students and scholars, says Arthur Verhoogt, acting archivist of the Papyrology Collection and Professor of Papyrology and Greek.
For example, seemingly boring account records may offer new insights on the demographics of the era, lifespan, marriage patterns or the productivity of ancient farmers.
The U-M Library’s Computer & Video Game Archive opened to little fanfare in 2008, sparked by a faculty member’s simple question: Did the library carry any gaming titles?
While open access literature is free to users and is generally less expensive than traditional publishing methods, it isn't always free of charge to authors, who pay article publication fees, commonly called "page charges."
The 3D Lab, part of the University of Michigan Library’s Digital Media Commons on north campus, is expanding campus access to 3D printers thanks to a grant from the university’s Third Century Initiative.