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Historical Children's Literature

Historical Children's Literature at RBSC

Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) collects children's literature of Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States to 1939 with an emphasis on books that were read by children. UBC's Education library also collects historical Canadian children's literature.

Our Collections

  • The Arkely Collection of Early and Historical Children’s Literature holds Canadian, British and American children’s books from the late eighteenth century to 1939. It is strong in material by and about Lewis Carroll. Some unique items include Canadian first editions, early editions of children’s classics, and works of important illustrators.
  • This collection of Canadian, British, American children’s books from the mid-1800s to 1960 includes volumes by Kate Greenaway, Randolph Caldecott, Lewis Carroll, A.A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, and L. Frank Baum.
  • The early textbook collection spans the period from the eighteenth century to about 1930, and is probably the largest of its kind in Canada. The bulk of the collection is Canadian, in English and French, but includes American and British texts, which were probably used in Canadian schools. Many of the books contain statements by the British Columbia and/or other provincial governments authorising the textbooks for use in schools.
  • This collection covers nineteenth century writing for children, under the nom de plume “Lewis Carroll”, by the Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. The Victoria bookseller R.D. Hilton Smith assembled the collection. The collection is rich in first, early and limited editions and includes more than 200 editions of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, about half of these have illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. The rest have illustrations by some 80 other artists. The collection also includes parodies and imitations of Carroll’s works, some 50 editions of other books by Carroll, some 60 books about Carroll, 25 musical and dramatic versions, film and recordings, 15 collections and selections, and 20 miscellaneous pieces. This collection has its own guide located here

Related Resources

UBC Library Research Guides

Aboriginal Children's Literature: 

  • This guide introduces the world of Aboriginal children's and young adult literature, and Aboriginal children's authors and illustrators. 

Education Library Children's Literature Bibliographies

  • This site lists children's literature located in the UBC Library catalogue according to subjects and themes. 

Children's Literature

  • This guide was created by UBC's Education Library to help patrons find information and research resources about literature for children and youth. 

Canadian Children's Literature

  • This guide was created by UBC's Education Library to help patrons find information and research resources about Canadian literature for children and youth. 

Alice 100 Collection

  • This is a more in-depth guide to the Alice 100 Collection at RBSC, including information about Lewis Carroll, Alice Liddell, and more.