What Are Little Books Made Of?

The cover of a children's book from 1913. Two children, one seated, one standing and reading a book to the seated child.

Big A-B-C Book (Akron, OH: The Saalfield Publishing Co., 1913). Linen. Special Collections Children’s Literature Collection. In the Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection, Gift of the Lee Walp Family.

Event Information

February 5th through March 22nd
Hatcher Graduate Library, Special Collections, 6th Floor
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The Special Collections Research Center is excited to display a variety of nineteenth and twentieth century children's books made of cloth and related materials.

The market for children’s books expanded over the course of the nineteenth century, as childhood mortality rates dropped and literacy rates rose. British and American publishers sought to create “indestructible” books that would appeal to the parents and teachers of very young children. Linen and muslin proved to be practical and appealing materials for such books, which were usually printed with bright colors and comparatively little text.

Cloth books remained popular for almost a century before the cloth rationing of World War II shifted production towards heavy-duty paper substitutes, such as “linenette.”

Additional Infomation

Library Contact
Juli McLoone jmcloone@umich.edu
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Last modified: 02/05/2019