Children’s Services, A Treasured History

We are exceedingly proud that the Buffalo Public Library was one of the first libraries in the country to have a separate Children’s Room, established in 1896.  At the time, this was a revolutionary idea.  Astoundingly, in 1894, 70% of the nation’s libraries still had age restrictions. 

Likewise, forward-thinking librarians at our counterpart, the Grosvenor Library, also assembled a  substantial amount of early and fine children’s books.  Both of these rich collections have provided our Rare Book Room with the approximately 2,500 volumes that comprise our Juvenile, ABC, Disney and pop-up book collections.

Children’s Room at the Buffalo Public Library (1906)

In addition to the books coming from the Buffalo Public and Grosvenor Library collections, many of the American titles were purchased in the early 1970s when older titles were more readily available but not exceedingly expensive.  Also, Mr. Edward F. Ellis, once a librarian with the Buffalo Public Library, assembled a personal collection of juvenile materials over the course of 40 years.  Mr. Ellis collected illustrated and foreign language editions of Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle, as well as a selection of ABC books and Walt Disney publications which were gifted to the library following his death in 1984.

The Disney collection consists of over 30 titles published during the 1930s through the 1970s, and includes a pristine copy of the Mickey Mouse Waddle Book (1934) that contains punch-out characters which are intended to be removed from the book.

Cover from Mickey Mouse Waddle Book (New York: Blue Ribbon Books, Inc., c1934) by Walt Disney Productions. Gift of the Edward F. Ellis Estate, 1984.

The ABC collection consists of over 700 volumes, primarily for children, dating to the late 18th century.  It includes books, miniature books, cards and foreign language editions in Spanish, French, German, Dutch, Czech, Welsh, Swedish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Italian, Greek, Hebrew, Ojibway and Danish.

Cover from The Monkey's ABC Word Book (New York: Golden Press, c1982) by Kelly Oechsli. Gift of Melissa Ackerman.

Page from Abecedario zoológico ilustrado (1935) by Kunst. Text in Spanish.

Page from Moje Abeceda (Praha: Ústřední Dělnické Knihkupetví a Nakladatelství -A. Svěcený, 1928). Text in Czech; in verse.

Materials in the Juvenile collection also date to the late 18th century and include books, miniature books, bibles, mechanical books and magazines.  Among the collection are many classic children’s books illustrated by major artists such as Randolph Caldecott, Walter Crane, Edmund Dulac, Kate Greenaway, Kay Nielsen, Howard Pyle, Arthur Rackham, Newell Wyeth and many more.

Cover from Kate Greenaway's Alphabet (London; New York: George Routledge & Sons, 1885?) by Kate Greenaway.

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