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Textbooks and Schoolbooks: Resources for Scholars and Researchers

A number of libraries in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and other countries have outstanding collections of schoolbooks and textbooks.  Examples of such collections are listed below.  Because of the rare and fragile nature of schoolbooks, circulation or access policies for these materials may be restricted.  If you are unable to visit the collections in person, consult the Interlibrary Loan or Reference Department of your local library for help in obtaining access to materials. Some historical textbooks may be available for examination as microform or facsimile copies from a variety of libraries or may be borrowed from the Center for Research Libraries.


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Library Collections

American Antiquarian Society
The Pedagogical Juvenile Books collection is described in: Under Its Generous Dome, now available at the Society's Website. It contains 1300 schoolbooks, 230 Sabbath School books and primers, and 320 primers.
Center for Research Libraries. Textbook Collection
The 70,000 volume collection was formed "by deposits from member libraries" with imprint dates ranging from the 18th-20th Century, with a large emphasis on 20th Century works.  Individual titles are not represented in the CRL catalog.  Transactions from non-member institutions are $25 each, prepaid.
Columbia University. Teachers College.  Milbank Memorial Library. Special Collections.
The American schoolbooks collection includes imprints of the 18th and 19th Centuries, while the International Collection covers 19th and 20th Centuries.
Harvard Graduate School of Education. Monroe C. Gutman Library. Special Collections
The Historical Textbooks Collection includes about 35,000 volumes, of which 10,000 have been microfilmed and are available through interlibrary loan. Imprints generally range from 1800-1950.  This collection is fully cataloged.
Illinois State University. Milner Library. Special Collections and Rare Book Room.
The Historical Textbook Collection, a part of the Children's Literature Collection, includes numeous primers, readers, and texts covering all areas of study. Access to this collection is through the Milner Online Catalog and a list of titles maintained by Special Collections.
The Libraries of The Claremont Colleges, Claremont, California. Honnold/Mudd Library, Special Collections Department
The Early American Schoolbooks Collection numbers more than 100 volumes printed between 1713-1879. The bulk of the collection is accessed through a printed card catalog.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress has 254,000 titles in education consisting of monographs, scholarly journals, directories, descriptive works, textbooks, bibliographies, yearbooks and serials for the United States and many other countries.
Northern Illinois University. Blackwell History of Education Research Museum.
The Blackwell holds over 11,000 old schoolbooks, teacher education texts, and reference books. The collection also includes 50 hornbooks, over 125 primers, and more than 300 spellers.
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT) Library.
The Historical Textbook Collection includes textbooks approved for use in Upper Canada/Ontario from 1846-1970, as well as texts approved by the Irish National Board of Education.  Bibliographic access is provided through the University of Toronto Library's online catalog.
Stanford University Academic Libraries. Cubberley Education Library. Special Collections
The Historical Textbook Collections include materials from the late 18th to the 20th centuries.  Bibliographic access is provided through card catalogs located in the library.
Trinity College. Watkinson Library. Children's Literature and Textbooks Collections
The Barnard Collection, the core of which formed part of the personal library of educator, Henry Barnard, comprises ca. 7,000 volumes, most of which date from the late 18th century to ca. 1880.
United States. National Library of Education. Special Collections
The Textbooks Collection includes more than 12,000 19th and 20th Century American textbooks. Selected, representative titles are described in: Early American Textbooks, 1775-1900: A Catalog of Titles Held by the Educational Research Library. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept. of Education, 1985.
University of Kentucky Libraries. Education Library.
The Children's Literature and Textbook Collection includes textbooks written for children, along with fiction, and nonfiction works.
University of Pittsburgh. University Library System. Special Collections
The Nietz Schoolbooks Collection contains about 16,000 volumes, primarily schoolbooks of the 19th century. The collection is fully cataloged and is accessible through PittCat.
University of Southern Mississippi. McCain Library and Archives. de Grummond Collection
The Textbook Collection includes imprints which date back to the mid-1800s, as well as contemporary works. The 2000 title collection covers all subjects, for preschool through 12th grade.
University of South Florida Tampa Campus Library. Special Collections
The Early American Textbook Collection includes about 1,000 18th-19th century works, the majority published before 1865.

Additional library collections may be identified by consulting the reference book Subject Collections.Compiled by Lee Ash and William G. Miller. 7th ed. New Providence, NJ: R.R. Bowker, 1993.


Microform Collection

American Primers
This collection, reproduced on 1401 microfiches, is described in: American Primers: Guide to the Microfiche Collection. Bethesda, Md.: University Publications of America, c1989. (146 p.) The introductory essay by Richard L. Venezky provides a history of primers and readers. Items in this collection were obtained from a number of collections, including several libraries listed above. More than a dozen libraries own this set of microfiches.


Web Resources

Le manuel scolaire dans l'historiographie québécoise, par Paul Aubin, Centre interuniversitaire d'études québécoises, Université Laval, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières
This authoritative and comprehensive Website includes an annotated bibliography of more than 9,000 entries describing textbooks of Quebec, 1765 to 1965. There are scanned images of illustrations from textbooks, retrievable by date or by theme.
 William Holmes McGuffey at Miami University, 1826-1836
A joint project of the Miami University Libraries and the McGuffey Museum, this Website provides digitized primary source materials such as letters and photographs, as well a bibliography of works by and about McGuffey. The Walter Havighurst Special Collections holds the McGuffey Papers consisting of 274 items.


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Last updated: September, 2001

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