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Nineteenth-Century American Children’s Books

the other bibliographies

Books by Jacob Abbott | Literary adventures of Samuel Griswold Goodrich

This list includes analytical works by scholars and reviews written at the time.

Books and reading are celebrated in a wallpaper for your desktop.

Lyman Abbott. “Jacob Abbott, Friend of Children,” in Silhouettes of My Contemporaries. London: np, 1922. online at

Recollections of a son about his book-writing father.

Lysla I. Abbott. “Jacob Abbott: A Goodly Heritage.” In Hewins Lectures, 1947-1962. Boston: Horn Book, 1963. pp. 129-149

William A. Alcott. “The Morality of Pictures.” The Mother’s Assistant and the Young Lady’s Friend, April 1845: 78-79. online

Criticising an unnamed author who allowed into his book an illustration of someone smoking, Alcott worries that “immoral” illustrations in books for the young will loose “a flood of evil” upon the U.S.

Americana as Taught to the Tune of a Hickory Stick, comp. W. W. Livengood. N. p.: Women’s National Book Association, 1954.

Brief descriptions of and excerpts from a handful of 19th-century textbooks, with reproductions of a few pages.

“The Arabian Nights.” Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, September 1850: 290. online

Gillian Avery. Behold the Child: American Children and Their Books, 1621-1922. Baltimore, Maryland; Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.

Jan Bakker. “Summer Reading at Woodlands: A Juvenile Library of the Old South.” Children’s Literature 9 (1981): 221-231, plus 21 pages.

Description and analysis of books read by the children of a Georgia planter in the 1840s and 1850s; with a wonderful 21-page bibliography listing the books, and inscriptions in them.

Before Oz: Juvenile Fantasy Stories from Nineteenth-Century America, ed. Mark I. West. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1989.

Excerpts from the few book-length works of fantasy fiction available to 19th-century American children.

Robert Franklin Berman. “The Naive Child and the Competent Child: American Literature for Children and American Culture, 1830-1930.” PhD diss. Harvard University, 1978.

Jani L. Berry. “Discipline and (Dis)order: Paternal Socialization in Jacob Abbott’s Rollo Books.” Children’s Literature Association Quarterly 18 (Fall 1993): 100-105

Review of Beadle’s Dime Books. North American Review 99 (1864): 303-309. online

Carol Billman. “McGuffey’s Readers and Alger’s Fiction: The Gospel of Virtue According to Popular Children’s Literature.” Journal of Popular Culture 11 (1977): 614-619.

Jacob Blanck. “A Twentieth-Century Look at Nineteenth-Century Children’s Books.” In Bibliophile in the Nursery, ed. William Targ. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Co., 1957. pp. 427-451

John B. Boles. “Jacob Abbott and the Rollo Books: New England Culture for Children.” Journal of Popular Culture 6 (1973): 507-528.

“Books for Children.” Christian Examiner 2 (1825): 291-301.

Review of Elementary Discourses; or, Sermons Addressed to Children, by John Burder.

“Books for Children.” American Annals of Education 3 (1828): 99-103. online

Suggestions for “suitable” children’s books.

“Books for Children.” Christian Examiner 5 (1828): 402-420.

An essay on children’s books, in the form of a review of Original Moral Tales; The Juvenile Miscellany; The Mirror; or, Eighteen Juvenile Tales and Dialogues.

“Books for Children.” Christian Examiner 8 (March 1830): 22-35.

Review of American Popular Lessons, Chiefly Selected from the Writings of Mrs. Barbauld, Miss Edgeworth, and Other Approved Authors; Sequel to American Popular Lessons, Intended for the Use of Schools; Poetry for Schools; Primary Dictionary; or, Rational Vocabulary.

“Books for Our Children.” Atlantic Monthly 16 (Dec. 1865): 724-735.

A general essay on books for children.

E. Douglas Branch. “The Children’s Hour.” In The Sentimental Years: 1836-1860. NY: D. Appleton-Century Co., Inc., 1934. Repr. NY: Hill & Wang, 1962.

Simon Brown. “What Books Shall I Read?” The Mother’s Assistant and the Young Lady’s Friend, Feb. 1845: 37-39. online

Argues that “impure” books should be avoided, so good principles won’t be “loosened.”

Lydia Maria Child. “Advice Concerning Books” and “List of Good Books for Various Ages.” In The Mother’s Book. Boston: Carter & Hendee, 1831. Repro. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Applewood Books, 1989.

The list is organized by age.

Child’s Play?: Children’s Books in Early America. An Exhibition of Children’s Books from the Collections of Colonial Williamsburg. 1990.

Bibliographic information on 63 British & American works available before 1850; with introduction by John E. Ingram & two illustrations.

“Children’s Books.” Christian Examiner 10 (May 1831): 212-220.

Essay in the form of a review of John Pierpont: The Young Reader; Samuel G. Goodrich: Peter Parley’s Tales About the Sun, Moon, and Stars; Solomon Bell: Tales of Travels West of the Mississippi; Cousin Elizabeth; The Children’s Robinson Crusoe.

Lorinda B. Cohoon. Serialized Citizenships: Periodicals, Books, and American Boys, 1840-1911. Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2006.

Henry Steele Commager. “When Majors Wrote for Minors.” Saturday Review May 1952: 10-11.

Paula T. Connolly. Slavery in American Children’s Literature, 1790-2010. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2013.

John G. Crandall. “Patriotism and Humanitarian Reform in Children’s Literature, 1825-1860.” American Quarterly Spring 1969: 3-23.

Richard L. Darling. The Rise of Children’s Book Reviewing in America. 1865-1881. New York: R.R. Bowker Company, 1968.

F.J. Harvey Darton. “Two New Englands: ‘Peter Parley’ and ‘Felix Summerly’.” Children’s Books in England, 3rd ed. London: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

F.J. Harvey Darton. “Peter Parley and the Battle of the Children’s Books.” The Cornhill Magazine Nov. 1932: 542-58.

Melanie Dawson. “The Miniaturizing of Girlhood: Nineteenth-Century Playtime and Gendered Theories of Development.” In The American Child, ed. Caroline E. Lavender & Carol J. Singley. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2003. pp. 63-84.

Deborah C. De Rosa. Domestic Abolitionism and Juvenile Literature, 1830-1865. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2003.

Sarah Elbert. A Hunger for Home: Louisa May Alcott and Little Women. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1984.

Ruth Miller Elson. “American Schoolbooks and ‘Culture’ in the Nineteenth Century.” The Mississippi Valley Historical Review Dec 1959: 411-34.

Ruth Miller Elson. Guardians of Tradition: American Schoolbooks of the Nineteenth Century. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1964.

THE book on the subject; rich in examples and with an outstanding bibliography, which appears to list chronologically every textbook printed in the 19th century.

J. Merton England. “The Democratic Faith in American Schoolbooks, 1783-1860.” American Quarterly 15 (1963): 191-99.

Lesley Ginsberg. “Of Babies, Beasts, and Bondage: Slavery and the Question of Citizenship in Antebellum American Children’s Literature. In The American Child, ed. Caroline E. Levander and Carol J. Singley. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press. pp. 85-105.

Includes discussion of pieces from The Juvenile Miscellany, Robert Merry’s Museum, and The Slave’s Friend.

Henry Ford and D. Kenneth Laub. “The McGuffey Readers.” In Bibliophile in the Nursery, ed. William Targ. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Co., 1957. pp. 417-426

Harvey Green. “Scientific Thought and the Nature of Children in America, 1820-1920.” In A Century of Childhood. Rochester New York: Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, 1984.

Katherine C. Grier. “Childhood Socialization and Companion Animals: United States, 1820-1870.” Society and Animals 7 (1999): 95-120.

Virginia Haviland. The Travelogue Story Book of the Nineteenth Century. Boston: The Horn Book, Inc., 1950.

Howell J. Heaney. “A Century of Early American Children’s Books in German: 1738-1837.” Phaedrus 6 (Spring 1979): 22-26. (Also in Pennsylvania Folklife (1979-80): 75-79)

Caroline M. Hewins. A Mid-Century Child and Her Books New York: Macmillan Company, 1926. online

A lively, detailed account of the books read by a white girl born in 1846; she later wrote for Robert Merry’s Museum.

T. W. Higginson. “Children’s Books of the Year.” North American Review Jan. 1866: 236-49. online

Clifton Johnson. Old-Time Schools and School-books. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1904 [facsimile New York: Dover Press, 1963]

Deidre Johnson. “Nancy Drew—A Modern Elsie Dinsmore?” The Lion and the Unicorn 18 (1994): 13-24.

A discussion of the popular 20th-century heroine which includes a lot about an equally popular 19th-century heroine.

Deidre Johnson, comp. Girls Series Books: A Checklist of Titles Published, 1840-1991. Minneapolis, MN: Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota Libaries, 1992.

Alice M. Jordan. From Rollo to Tom Sawyer, and Other Papers. Boston: The Horn Book, Inc., 1948.

Essays on books and children’s magazines; very entertaining reading.

Alice M. Jordan. “Peter Parley.” The Horn Book Magazine 10 (1934): 96-101. Also in From Rollo to Tom Sawyer, and Other Papers. Boston: The Horn Book, Inc., 1948.

“Juvenile Literature.” Christian Review Oct 1855: 593-601.

Reviews Jacob Abbot: Marco Paul’s Voyages and Travels, Harper’s Story Books; Susan Warner: Mr. Rutherford’s Children; Rev. Dr. Hawks: Richard the Lion Hearted; Charles Dickens: A Child’s History of England; W.C. Richards: Harry’s Vacation; Ministering Children.

Carol Kammen. “The McGuffey Readers.” Children’s Literature 5 (1976): 58-63.

Cultural values in the books.

Holly Keller. “Juvenile Antislavery Narrative and Notions of Childhood.” Children’s Literature 24 (1996): 86-100.

Examines anti-slavery works, including books, The Juvenile Miscellany, and Slave’s Friend. Keller debunks several popular but incorrect notions about American children and works for them.

R. Gordon Kelly. “American Children’s Literature: An Historiographical Review.” American Literary Realism, 1870- 1910 6 (1973): 89-108.

Harold H. Kolb, Jr. “Why Can’t Johnny Learn? (A Hypothetical Review by John Dewey of McGuffey’s Fifth Reader).” Journal of Popular Culture 2 (1968): 503-09.

Eve Kornfeld and Susan Jackson. “The Female Bildungsroman in Nineteenth-Century America: Parameters of a Vision.” Journal of American Culture 10 (1987): 69-75.

The image of domesticity in several girls’ novels, including Little Women.

“Ladies’ Commission on Sunday-school Books, The.” Old and New May 1870: 709-12.

William W. Lawrence. “Rollo and His Uncle George.” The New England Quarterly, Sept. 1945: 291-302.

Stanley W. Lindberg. “Institutionalizing a Myth: The McGuffey Readers and the Self-Made Man.” Journal of American Culture 2 (Spring 1979): 71-81.

“Literature of Our Sunday-Schools, The.” Hours at Home 10 (1870): 293-300; 450-59; 558-67.

Review of The Little Philosopher; or, The Infant School at Home, by Jacob Abbott. American Journal of Education 4 (September & October 1829): 476.

Donnarae C. MacCann. “The White Supremacy Myth in Juvenile Books About Blacks, 1830-1900.” PhD diss. University of Iowa, 1988.

Anne Macleod. “The Caddie Woodlawn Syndrome: American Girlhood in the Nineteenth Century.” In A Century of Childhood. Rochester New York: Margaret Woodbury Strong Museum, 1984.

Anne MacLeod. “Education for Freedom: Children’s Fiction in Jacksonian America.” Harvard Educational Review 46 (1976): 425-435.

Anne MacLeod. “For the Good of the Country: Cultural Values in American Juvenile Fiction, 1820-1860.” Children’s Literature 5 (1976): 40-51.

Anne MacLeod. A Moral Tale: Children’s Fiction and American Culture, 1820-1860. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, The Shoestring Press, 1975.

A very readable analysis of social values; an extensive and very useful bibliography.

Barbara Maxwell, comp. Checklist of Children’s Books 1837-1876. Philadelphia: Free Library of Philadelphia, Central Children’s Department, Special Collections, 1975.

A wonderfully descriptive list, arranged chronologically.

Gail S. Murray. “Rational Thought and Republican Virtues: Children’s Literature, 1789-1820.” Journal of the Early Republic 8 (1988): 159-177.

Mary Noel. Villains Galore: The Heyday of the Popular Story Weekly. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1954.

A classic survey of popular works read by teenagers and adults.

Fletcher Osgood. “Jacob Abbott, a Neglected New England Author.” The New England Magazine June 1904: 471-479.

Samuel Osgood. “Books for Our Children.” Atlantic Monthly (1865): 724-35.

Martha Irene Pallante. “The Child and His Book: Children and Children’s Moral and Religious Literature, 1700 to 1850.” PhD diss. University of Pennsylvania, 1988.

Edmund Pearson. Dime Novels; or, Following an Old Trail. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1929.

Samuel Pickering, Jr. “The Grave Leads but to Paths of Glory: Deathbed Scenes in American Children’s Books, 1800-1860.” Dalhousie Review 59 (1979): 452-64.

Jennie Lawrence Pratt. “Jacob Abbott: The Author of the Rollo Books,” in Just Maine Folks. Np: np, 1924.

Mary E. Quinlivan. “Race Relations in the Antebellum Children’s Literature of Jacob Abbott.” Journal of Popular Culture 16 (1982): 27-36.

Daniel T. Rodgers. “Socializing Middle-Class Children: Institutions, Fables, and Work Values in Nineteenth-Century America.” In Growing Up in America: Children in Historical Perspective, ed. N. Ray Hiner and Joseph M. Hawes. Urbana, Illinois: University of Illinois Press, 1985. pp. 119-132.

How education, child-rearing advice, and children’s books reflect changes through the 19th century.

A. S. W. Rosenbach. Early American Children’s Books. Portland, Maine: The Suthworth Press, 1933.

Bibliographic descriptions of 816 books published from 1682 to 1836, all in Dr. Rosenbach’s collection; with reproductions of several title pages.

Dale Roylance. “The Graphic Art of Children’s Book Illustration in America, 1840-1880.” The Princeton University Library Chronicle 45 (1984): 256-266.

Carolyn Scott. “Nineteenth-Century Children’s Civil War Literature: A Study of Accepted and Popular Books for Children About the American Civil War, 1861-1900.” Unpublished paper, University of Minnesota, 1976.

This paper is available at the Kerlan Collection, University of Minnesota.

Jean Duncan Shaw. “Children’s Fiction and American History.” Elementary English (Jan. 1968): 89-94.

Rollo G. Silver. “Rollo on Rollo.” The Colophon. New Graphic Series #2 (n.d.): 5-17.

Includes a descriptive bibliography of first editions of the Rollo books.

James A. Silverman. “Uncovering The Snow Storm.” California History 63 (1984): 172-76.

A history of the first book for children printed in California; illustrated.

Ivy Linton Stabell. “Model Patriots: The First Children’s Biographies of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin.” Children’s Literature 41 (2013): 91-114.

Kate Steinway. “Early Nineteenth-century American Children’s Books and Their Relationship to Currier & Ives Lithographs.” Imprint 18 (1993): 17-26.

Focus is on 1813-1868.

Laureen Tedesco. “The Pedagogy and Problems of Jane Andrews’s The Seven Little Sisters Who Live on the Round Ball that Floats in the Air (1861).” Children’s Literature in Education 37 (2006): 133-148.

Carl Jefferson Weber, comp. A Bibliography of Jacob Abbott. Waterville, Maine: Colby College Press, 1948.

Harry B. Weiss. Mahlon Day: Early New York Printer, Bookseller and Publisher of Children’s Books. New York: New York Public Library, 1941. Reprinted from the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Dec 1941.

Day published a handful of inauthentic Parley books.

Harry B. Weiss. The Printers and Publishers of Children’s Books in New York City. New York: New York Public Library, 1948. Reprinted from the Bulletin of the New York Public Library, Aug 1948.

d’Alte A. Welch. A Bibliography of American Children’s Books Printed Prior to 1821. Np: American Antiquarian Society & Barre Publishers, 1922.

A descriptive list arranged alphabetically.

Mark I. West. “Guilt and Shame in Early American Children’s Literature: A Comparison of John S. C. Abbott’s The Child at Home and Jacob Abbott’s Rollo Books.” University of Hartford Studies in Literature 18 (1986): 1-7.

Polly L. Whitney. “ ‘If Only Papa Wouldn’t Write, How Nice It Would Be’: Hawthorne’s Phantom Family in the Children’s Books.” Massachusetts Studies in English 10 (Spring 1985): 59-79.

Bernard Wishy. “Fit for Children to Hear.” In The Child and the Republic: The Dawn of Modern American Child Culture. Philadelphia: University of Philadelphia Press, 1972.

An analysis of important themes in 19th-century children’s books.

R. Richard Wohl. “The ‘Rags to Riches Story’: An Episode of Secular Idealism.” In Class, Status and Power, ed. Reinhart Bendix and Seymour M. Lipset. Glencoe, Ill.: The Free Press, 1953.

Elizabeth Young. “Juvenile Biographies of the Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1838-1887.” Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society 33 (1955): 181-197.

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