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Louise Lee and Richard Floethe 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

Richard Floethe was born in Essen, Germany on September 2, 1901. He studied art at various schools in Germany, including the Munich State School, the Dortmund Art School, and the Bauhaus in Weimar. After completing a mural for the International Exposition in Cologne, Germany he immigrated to the United States in 1928. Once in America he worked as an industrial designer, book illustrator, and from 1936-1939, as the art director of the New York City poster division of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) art projects. Floethe later taught at The Cooper Union in New York City and at the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida.

Louise Lee was born on March 13, 1913 in New York City. She studied drama at Columbia University and the Neighborhood Playhouse Studios. Louise and Richard married in 1937, at which time she was already an accomplished children’s author. After their marriage they began to collaborate on children’s books, publishing their first book together, If I Were Captain, in 1956. If I Were Captain was chosen as a Junior Literary Guild Selection. They traveled around the world and often went sailing in their yacht. These experiences heavily influenced their work, which often explored different cultures and maritime activities. Richard designed or illustrated over a hundred books, including twenty-three written by Louise.

Richard won the limited Editions Club International Contest for best illustrated books for Tyl Ulenspiegl (1935) and for Pinocchio (1938). He also won the Limited Edition Club, American Institute Graphic Arts award for English is Our Language (1950). As their son Ronald began to make educational films, Louise wrote the film scripts and assisted with editing. She won the Birmingham Educational Film Festival award and the Golden Babe award from the Chicagoland Film Festival, both for "The Beekeeper" (1976). Louise Floethe died on August 6 and Richard Floethe on September 30, 1988, in Sarasota, Florida.


Falk, Peter Hastings. Who Was Who in American Art, 1564-1975: 400 years of Artists in America. Madison, CT: Sound View Press, 1999.

“Louise Lee Floethe (1913-1988),” Contemporary Authors.

“Richard Floethe,”, accessed January 5, 2012,

“Richard Floethe (1901-1988),” Contemporary Authors.

This collection contains a dummy and one piece of preliminary artwork for Louise and Richard Floethe's book If I Were Captain.

It is housed in the same box as the Marcia Brown papers, the Emma L. Brock notes and illustrations, and the Joseph Rous Paget-Fredericks dummy.

Gift of Richard Floethe, 1968.

Free Library of Philadelphia: Children's Literature Research Collection
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Garrett Boos
Finding Aid Date
April 2012
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. Some of the materials in this collection may be too fragile for use without the Curator’s supervision.

Collection Inventory

Preliminary art for pages 25-26, pen and ink and watercolor on paper.
Object 1
General note

Housed with Children's Literature Research Collection original framed artwork.

Dummy, pen and ink and watercolor illustrations with text pasted in, 38 pages.
Box 1 Folder 3

Print, Suggest