Weaver Collection of Juvenile Materials
About Mrs. Weaver
Mrs. Gustine Courson Weaver (1873-1942) was a missionary, an author, a storyteller, a collector, and a philanthropist. The daughter of John Courson and Sarah Boydston Courson, Gustine Courson married Clifford Seldon Weaver, a minister, on May 22, 1899 while both were students at Eureka College. When they graduated in 1900, they left for Japan as missionaries. After serving there for 7 years in Osaka and Tokyo, they returned to the United States. They served in several positions throughout the mid-west and in Texarkana, and in 1920, they came to McKinney, Texas, where Clifford served as pastor of the First Christian Church. In the 1930’s and early 1940’s, Mrs. Weaver donated generously to the University of North Texas (then the North Texas State Teachers College), and her donations became the foundation of several important groups of materials in the Rare Book & Texana Collections, including the Weaver Collection of Juvenile Literature, the Mary Webb Collection, and the Miniature Books Collection. Mrs. Weaver was an accomplished story teller, wrote a number of books, and sponsored several exhibitions of dolls from around the world, promoting peace through understanding of different cultures. She helped organize the first Story Teller’s League and served as that organization’s president. Mrs. Weaver died in 1942 from injuries sustained in a car accident.
About The Collection
In the 1930’s, Mrs. Weaver began donating to what was then the North Texas State Teachers College. By the time of her death in 1942, the university holdings had been enriched by a number of significant research collections, including nearly 2,000 volumes of important juvenile books that she donated in 1936.
When the Rare Book Room was founded in 1981, books donated by Mrs. Weaver were transfered to the Rare Book & Texana Collections, and in 1994 the Weaver Collection of Juveniles was officially established as a separate special collection.
Through donations and purchases, the Weaver Collection continues to grow, and has become a noted collection showing the history of children’s books, early educational books, and toy and movable books.
Children’s Fiction and Literature
The main portion of the Weaver Collection is works of fiction - children’s books from all ages. Mrs. Weaver’s original collection concentrated on the 19th century, with examples from the 18th and early 20th century. In recent years, items ranging from the 1500’s to the 21st century have been added to help create a more complete view of the history of children’s literature.
The collection contains first editions of many important works, examples of many major children’s series, examples from important publishers of children’s books, and a wide collection of myths and fairy tales from around the world.
Heidi / Johanna Spyri Collection
Mrs. Weaver had a special love for the novel Heidi, written by Johanna Spyri. She collected over 50 different editions of the work, corresponded with publishers, translators and illustrators who had been involved with the story, and eventually formed a friendship with a great-niece of Johanna Spyri. As a result of this correspondence and friendship, the Weaver collection contains a number of items owned by Johanna Spyri, Heidi dolls, and other items related to the beloved children’s story.
Religious and Moralizing Literature
A major portion of 19th century American children’s literature was devoted to religious and moral instruction, and Mrs. Weaver - the wife of a minister and missionary - collected a number of such items. The collection contains many examples, including many works by the American Sunday School Union, the Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, the Presbyterian Board of Publication and Sabbath-School Work, the American Tract Society, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the American Baptist Publication Society
Mrs. Weaver had an interested in illustrated children’s books, and collected many important examples of the works of such illustrators as Randolph Caldecott, Kate Greenaway, and Willebeek Le Mair. Since 1994, works by more recent illustrators such as Howard Pyle, N.C. Wyeth, Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham, and Paul O. Zelinsky.
Recent donations have included original artwork used as book illustrations, including a large group of items by Victoria Lisi.
Readers, Primers, and Other Textbooks
The collection contains several hundred readers, primers, and other textbooks, ranging in date from the late 1700’s to the 1960’s. A major group of McGuffey’s readers includes multiple editions of the different readers, as well as examples of the Speller and the Primer. The collection also contains readers and primers by other American publishers, textbooks for mathematics, science, history, and foreign languages. Another component of the collection is books on education, including works by Maria Montessori, and late 19th-early 20th century textbooks for teachers.
The collection also has several examples of stereotype printing plates used to print McGuffey’s readers.
The Weaver collection contains individual issues and significant runs of various important children’s periodicals, including St. Nicholas, the Juvenile Miscellany, Chatterbox, Babyland, Merry’s museum, Our young folks, Peter Parley’s Magazine, Youth’s Penny Gazette, and Wide Awake.
Pop-Up Books/Toy books
Within the Weaver Collection is a sub-collection of over 400 pop-up, toy, and movable books. Ranging in date from the 1860’s to the present, the collection shows the development of paper-engineering as well as the variety of toy books that have been produced. The collection includes works by Robert Sabuda, Lothar Meggendorfer, Ernest Nister, Keith Moseley, Jan Pieńkowski, Vojtech Kubasta, and David A. Carter
Recently, an important group of production models and archival collections related to pop-ups and pop-up publishing have been added to the collection. This group includes artwork and models for a number of volumes that were never produced.
Mrs. Weaver was an author and researcher, as well as a philanthropist. The many scrapbooks, manuscripts, family papers, and volumes of genealogy that she assembled are a housed with the Weaver Collection.
In addition to the books, periodicals, and archival materials listed above, the Weaver Collection also contains a small group of other items, including antique and vintage toys, dolls, games, Sunday school attendance pins, and the like, all illustrating the creative and educational life of children.
The Weaver Collections continue to grow, by gifts and by occasional purchases.
Many, but not all, of the items that comprise the holdings of the Weaver Collection can be searched for in the UNT Libraries’ Online Catalog. Some items are only listed in the Card Catalog and some are as yet uncatalogued. For items listed in either catalog, it is possible to search by title, author, or subject. To locate other items or if you have other questions, please contact the staff of the Rare Book Room.