Marguerite de Angeli papers
Held at: Free Library of Philadelphia: Children's Literature Research Collection [Contact Us]1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19103
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Free Library of Philadelphia: Children's Literature Research Collection. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
Marguerite de Angeli (nee Lofft) was born in Lapeer, Michigan on March 14, 1889, but spent much of her life in the Philadelphia area. Although well-known as an author and illustrator of children’s books, de Angeli’s first love was music and she was a member of several church choirs around Philadelphia. She met fellow music lover and violinist John Daily de Angeli after dropping out of high school to work as a professional singer. They married in 1910 and soon moved to Minnesota to start a family. They moved frequently in the early years of their marriage, settling in 1918 with their children in Collingswood, New Jersey, where they would remain until the Depression.
Once in Collingswood she met Maurice Bower, who became her artistic mentor and in 1921 encouraged her to illustrate Sunday-school papers for local churches. Her first official commission came the following year and led to more illustration work for magazines, including Country Gentleman and Ladies Home Journal, and the occasional children’s book. In 1934, de Angeli (now a mother of five and living in Pennsylvania) traveled to New York City and met editor Helen Ferris of the Junior Literary Guild, who suggested she write a children’s book herself. Ferris’s suggestion led to Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store, a book for young readers that was accepted by Margaret Lesser at Doubleday. Lesser became a close friend, and requested that de Angeli write and illustrate a companion volume to be produced simultaneously to cut printing costs. Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store was published in 1935 and Ted and Nina Have a Happy Rainy Day a few months later, in early 1936.
The books were a success, and de Angeli kept up the pace of a book or two each year through 1950. She is best remembered for her realist fiction, writing carefully researched books about regional communities, like the Pennsylvania Dutch in Henner’s Lydia (1936) and Quakers in Thee, Hannah! (1940). She was also one of the first children’s authors to address racism, with Bright April (1946), which narrated the discrimination faced by a young black girl in Philadelphia. De Angeli also wrote historical fiction for children, beginning with Skippack School (1939), about a family of German immigrants in the early 1700s. Historical fiction led to her greatest success, The Door in the Wall (1949), which won the Newbery Medal in 1950.
De Angeli also published a charming autobiography, Butter at the Old Price (1971), and illustrated nursery rhymes and fairy tales. In addition to her 1950 Newbery Medal, de Angeli twice received Caldecott Honors, for 1944’s Yonie Wondernose and 1954’s Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes. Another historical book, Black Fox of Lorne (1956), was named a Newbery Honor Book. Although her publication rate slowed in the 1950s, de Angeli continued working into her late eighties, writing and illustrating twenty-eight books for children, many of which were bestsellers. De Angeli died June 16, 1987, at the age of ninety-eight.
De Angeli, Marguerite. Butter at the Old Price: The Autobiography of Marguerite de Angeli. Garden City, NY: Doubleday and Company, Inc., 1971.
Something About the Author, vol. 100.
Ursey, Malcolm. “Marguerite (Lofft) de Angeli.” In American Writers for Children, 1900-1960, edited by John Cech. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1983.
This collection consists of the papers of children’s book author and illustrator Marguerite de Angeli. The bulk of the collection comprises manuscripts, artwork, and production material for de Angeli’s children’s books. Twenty-six titles are represented, including four unpublished titles, as well as a handful of early de Angeli illustrations used in magazines. Of particular note is the material for The Old Testament (1960), an oversize art edition with watercolor illustrations. The drafts, sketches, and proofs from de Angeli’s first book, Ted and Nina Go to the Grocery Store (1935), are another highlight of the collection.
There is a sizeable amount of manuscript material for de Angeli’s later works, including Fiddlestrings (1974) and her 1971 memoir Butter at the Old Price. Sketches and final art are present for most of the titles. Many of the title subseries include a final pre-sewn version of the book (folded and gathered sheets) that have been placed in a proof of the dust jacket to mimic the published volume. There is a small selection of "personal artwork" consisting of illustrations and sketches by de Angeli not meant for publication. A considerable amount of personal correspondence is present, primarily from friends and family sent to de Angeli but also including some of de Angeli’s letters to others.
The collection dates between 1914 and 1982 (bulk 1935-1977) and includes a character doll, chromolithographs, correspondence, clippings, drafts, dummies, framed artwork, illustrations (usually in colored pencil, graphite, pen and ink, and watercolor), a limited number of publicity photographs, proofs, an oversize scrapbook, sketches, typescripts, and a visitors’ book from de Angeli’s home.
This collection is arranged in eight series: I. Book manuscripts and illustrations; II. Clippings; III. Correspondence; IV. Essays and speeches; V. Personal artwork; VI. Photographs; VII. Realia; VIII. Scrapbook.
Series I. Book manuscripts and illustrations includes twenty-eight subseries, arranged alphabetically by title. Within each subseries, materials are arranged in probable order of their creation.
Series II. Clippings includes three subseries: i. Book reviews; ii. Biographical and family-related material; iii. Magazine clippings illustrated by Marguerite de Angeli. Each subseries is arranged chronologically.
Series III. Correspondence includes four subseries: i. Cards to Marguerite de Angeli from her husband; ii. Correspondence; iii. Letters drafted by Marguerite de Angeli; iv. Visitors’ book. The subseries reflect de Angeli's original order. The visitors’ book is a bound volume requiring no further arrangement. All other subseries are arranged chronologically.
Series IV. Essays and speeches are arranged alphabetically by folder title.
Series V. Personal artwork is arranged alphabetically by title.
Series VI. Photographs are arranged chronologically.
Series VII. Realia contains a character doll of Elin from de Angeli's Elin's Amerika (1941).
Series VIII. Scrapbook preserves Marguerite de Angeli’s original order for the scrapbook. Loose items have been removed to separate folders.
Three items listed in the catalog of framed art could not be located as of March 2012. The catalog cards describe the items as follows:
"Pen and ink original from Skippack School (no page). Black frame, white mat."
"Book Week Poster - 1948 - Original watercolor for the poster." Catalog card is accompanied by a charge slip from 2004 to Public Services.
"Poster: The Door in the Wall. Illustration from cover."
Gift of Marguerite de Angeli, 1976-1980.
- De Angeli, Marguerite, 1889-1987
- MacKinstry, E. (Elizabeth), 1879-1956
- Milhous, Katherine, 1894-
- Terrien, Samuel L., 1911-2002
- Vining, Elizabeth Gray, 1902-1999
- Wallower, Lucille, 1910-
- Children's authors--20th century
- Children's literature--20th century
- Illustrated children's books--20th century
- Illustration of books--20th century
- Pennsylvania Dutch
- Free Library of Philadelphia: Children's Literature Research Collection
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Caitlin Goodman
- Finding Aid Date
- The processing of this collection was made possible through generous funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered through the Council on Library and Information Resources’ “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives” Project.
- Access Restrictions
This collection is open to researchers by appointment. Please contact the Curator for information on access.
- Use Restrictions
The right of access to material does not imply the right of publication. Permission for reprinting, reproduction, or extensive quotation from the rare books, manuscripts, prints, or drawings must be obtained through written application, stating the use to be made of the material. The reader bears the responsibility for any possible infringement of copyright laws in the publication of such material. A reproduction fee will be charged if the material is to be reproduced in a commercial publication.
Includes earlier versions of cover with the working titles "Talisman and Token" and "The Jewel of Lorn."
Illustration for page 87 is housed with the Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
Chromolithographs are housed with the Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
Illustration is housed with Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
Tracing paper is very brittle and crumbling.
This folder includes final art chromolithographs for the title page and pages 4, 13, 18, 19, 21, 22, 31, 41, 44, 51, 52, 63 .
Dummy is very fragile and must be used under supervision of the Curator.
"Lili's Mother" is an unpublished short story that later was incorporated into The Lion in the Box, based on the childhood stories of de Angeli's friend Lili Galen.
Folder includes cover letter from de Angeli's editor at Doubleday and some of de Angeli's instructions to the printer.
De Angeli's illustrations were published in a variety of magazines, including The American Girl, Country Gentleman, Lutheran Boys and Girls, and The Portal, although the specific magazines and issues for these illustrations are unidentified.
This folder also includes a carbon copy of a memo by Blanche Van Buren at Doubleday with questions regarding the index.
This series includes all final art except pages 13, 26, 28, and 70. Illustration for page 152 is housed with Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
The plate print is extremely oversized and fragile and requires curatorial supervision.
One set of proofs includes illustration proofs pasted in, the other is text only.
Illustration is housed with the Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
This title was never published.
Typescript is missing page 1. Folder includes a notecard "Page 1 of TED AND NINA GO TO THE GROCERY STORE sent out to Kansas for the traveling exhibit."
This folder includes the final art for the endpapers, title page, and pages 5-6, 8-9, 12, 13, 16-17, 20, 21, 25, and 28.
Illustrated with two photographs of Hannah Carter and her family. Hannah Carter was the inspiration for de Angeli's book Thee, Hannah!, about her life as a Quaker in 1850s Philadelphia. Hannah Carter's niece, Elizabeth Rhoads, compiled some of her favorite stories in 1962, sending a copy along to de Angeli.
Chromolithograph is housed with Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
Folder also includes a letter from Janet Chenery at Doubleday and a map of railroad routes in Pennsylvania.
Folder also includes a September 13, 1978 letter from Janet Chenery at Doubleday, rejecting the manuscript.
The majority of this large subseries is personal correspondence, primarily from Marguerite de Angeli's family and friends. Also included are some letters from her publishers and a few pieces of fan mail which were part of the original order kept by de Angeli.
Marguerite de Angeli's note on endpaper: "David [Kuhn, de Angeli's grandson] made this book for Dai & me. It is full of loving thoughts from friends. M. de A. 1976."
Jacobus' essay was written to honor Marguerite de Angeli's receipt of the 1950 Newbery Medal.
Photograph is housed with the Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.
Scrapbook is oversize and fragile and must be used under Curator's supervision. Loose materials were removed to a separate box and preservation photocopied as needed. These folders are accessible without restrictions.