Guide to the Louis Slobodkin Papers Addendum

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Slobodkin, Louis, 1903-1975
Title: Louis Slobodkin Papers Addendum
Dates: 1929-1974 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 9.0 linear feet (19 containers)
Collection Number: Coll 178
Summary: Louis Slobodkin (1903-1975) was an artist and illustrator and writer of books for children. He won the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for Many Moons. This collection is an addendum to the Slobodkin Papers (call number Ax 733) and contains literary manuscripts and sketchbooks, correspondence with publishers, general correspondence, subject files, art exhibition catalogs, book reviews, and royalty statements.
Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1299
(541) 346-3068

Languages: Collection materials are in English. 
Sponsor: Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical Note

Louis Slobodkin, sculptor, illustrator, and author, was born in Albany, New York on February 19, 1903, son of Nathan and Dora (nee Lubin) Slobodkin. He attended the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York City from 1918 to 1923. Slobodkin married Florence Gersh on September 27, 1927, and they raised two sons, Lawrence and Michael.

Louis Slobodkin was a noted sculptor. He won twenty-two medals from the Beaux Arts Institute of Design during the period 1918 to 1922, a Louis Tiffany Foundation Fellowship in 1932, Honorable Mention in competition for the Chicago War Memorial, 1932, and various commissions in federal competitions. He frequently served on art juries throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

Slobodkin first achieved fame in 1938 when his "Young Lincoln" statue, which had won a place in the Federal Building at the 1940 World's Fair, was summarily removed and destroyed by an official of the Fair. Slobodkin's many friends in the art world rallied to his cause, and eventually a bronze version of the plaster original was permanently placed in the Headquarters Building of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D. C.

In 1941, his sketching drew the attention of a friend, Eleanor Estes, who asked him to illustrate her book, The Moffats (Harcourt Brace, 1941). The book was well received, and a new career for Slobodkin was launched. In 1943, he illustrated James Thurber's Many Moons (Harcourt Brace, 1943), and this book won the Caldecott Medal. Between 1941 and 1972 Slobodkin illustrated, or collaborated on, or wrote and illustrated at least eighty-two titles. Notable among these are the Moffat books with Eleanor Estes, Many Moons with Thurber, and his own Magic Michael (MacMillan, 1944), Fo'castle Waltz (Vanguard, 1945), Sculpture: Principles and Practice (World, 1949), The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree (MacMillan, 1952), One Is Good but Two Are Better (Vanguard, 1956), Yasu and the Strangers (MacMillan, 1965), and the Read-About series (Frankin Watts 1966, 1967). Two of these books are for adult readers-- Fo'castle Waltz and Sculpture: Principles and Practice--while the rest are for children.

Louis Slobodkin's books have been translated into many foreign languages, including French, Norwegian, German, Italian, and Japanese. They have shown considerable staying power, some remaining in print for over thirty years, and often excerpted for anthologies and curriculum materials.

As Slobodkin's reputation as an author and illustrator grew, he came to be much in demand as a speaker at library association conventions and book fairs. His "chalk talks", given to large audiences of children, were always well received. Slobodkin's gently humorous books generated a steady stream of fan mail, which he carefully answered, addressing the children as equals and encouraging them to place their creativity on a foundation of hard work, as he himself had done.

Louis Slobodkin died in 1975.

Content Description

This addendum to the Louis Slobodkin Papers consists of manuscripts and sketchbooks, correspondence with publishers, general correspondence, subject files, art exhibition catalogs, book reviews, and royalty statements. The manuscripts, for the most part, are contained in a series of notebooks which also include Slobodkin's sketches. Of special interest is the original copy-edited typesetter's copy of James Thurber's Many Moons which Slobodkin illustrated and which won him the Caldecott Medal in 1944. Another manuscript, Mystery of Twin Moon Mountain, was never published but offers unique insights about Slobodkin's world view. Miscellaneous artwork, sketches and book reviews done by Slobodkin complete this series

Correspondence is divided into two segments: that with publishers and general, both of which are arranged alphabetically. The correspondence with publishers tells the story of Slobodkin's relationship with major New York publishing firms, one that was often strained by his struggle for improved reproduction of artwork. It also documents the unwillingness of some publishers to stock a backlisted book even if it sold well. Of note in the general correspondence are letters from novelist Anne Parrish and Slobodkin's replies to fan mail from children, which throw an interesting light on his character.

The subject files contain a wide range of materials. Among these files are many clippings and tearsheets useful to the biographer, especially in tracing Louis Slobodkin's earlier career as a noted sculptor.

Of special interest is the file on the famous "Lincoln Statue incident" at the 1940 New York World's Fair. (box 12, folder 2)

Art exhibition catalogs trace Slobodkin's career in sculpture, and place his work in the context of his friends and associates in both the Sculptor's Guild and An American Group, organizations in which he was very active. Although he considered monumental sculpture his specialty, Louis Slobodkin nevertheless created a number of successful "floating" pieces, and some of those are documented here. Slobodkin sculptures can be found in museums throughout the United States and elsewhere, including Israel.

The book reviews are indicative of the generally favorable opinion which reviewers held of Slobodkin's efforts. Typically they found his books slight, not very deep, but humorous and entertaining and occasionally moving, all of which accorded well with his own opinion.

The royalty statements trace the career of each book. Though they were not runaway best sellers, Louis Slobodkin's books had an appreciative audience that bought steadily; some books, such as Magic Michael, were in print for over thirty years. Some were translated into French, Spanish, German, Swedish, Norwegian, and especially Japanese, a country where they found a strong readership

A folder of photographic prints and negatives are stored separately under the call number PH156. Most of these are publicity shots relating to book fair appearances, or portraits used on book jackets, bearing no date or other indication of their place in the collection.

Use of the Collection

Restrictions on Access :  

Collection is open to the public.

Collection must be used in Special Collections & University Archives Reading Room.

Restrictions on Use :  

Property rights reside with Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections & University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Archival material may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws and other regulations.

Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g. a cause of action for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of Oregon assumes no responsibility.

If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.

Preferred Citation :  

[Identification of item], Louis Slobodkin Papers Addendum, Coll 178, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Collection is organized into the following series:

  • Manuscripts and Sketchbooks
  • Correspondence with Publishers
  • General Correspondence
  • Subject Files
  • Art Exhibition Catalogs
  • Book Reviews
  • Royalty Statements

Acquisition Information :  

Gift of Florence Slobodkin in 1983.

Processing Note :  

Collection processed by Richard S. Bear.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Related Materials :  

Louis Slobodkin Papers, Ax 733, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries, Eugene, Oregon.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Letter from Florence Slobodkin to University of Oregon Library re materials in this addendum, December 2, 1982
1 1

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Series:  Manuscripts and Sketchbooks

Note: All manuscripts are contained in notebooks except as noted.

1 2-3 The Amiable Giant. This version is in the form of a play.
1 4 Bark Said the Cat
1 4 The Pirate Brothers. Two unpublished poems for children
1 5 Bixxy and the Secret Message Mrs. P.
1 5 P. Salamander
1 5 How-When-Where. Notes for various proposed articles
1 6 Circus April lst
1 6 The Real Chocolate Rabbit
1 6 Eddie and His Grandma
1 7 Colette and the Princess. Trial sketches only
1 7 The Polka-Dot Goat. Trial sketches only
1 8 Donnie and Nonnie. Includes sketches; unpublished
2 1 Marcel the French Seagull. Published as Gogo the French Seagull The Amiable Giant. Play version, incomplete
2 2 Io Sono. Trial sketches. Also includes miscellaneous other sketches
2 3-4 Journal of a Ghost. Unfinished diary of Slobodkin's trip to France in the 1930s
2 5 The Late Cuckoo. Trial sketches only
2 6 Magic Michael. Typescript
2 6 The Wise Maiden. Typescript
2 6 What Happened in the Zoo. Typescript, may have been published as Hustle and Bustle
2 6 Space Ship. Holograph fragment
2 6 Miscellaneous unidentified loose leaf fragments
2 7 Many Moons. By James Thurber. Photocopy of the typescript containing holographic corrections (original in safe 14)
3 1 The Little Mermaid Who Could Not Sing. Holographic fragment with sketches
3 1 Magic Fiddle
3 2 Melvin the Moose Child. Includes sketches
3 2 Thank You - You're Welcome. Sketches only
3 2 Strange Things Have Been Happening to Me. Includes sketches, unpublished
3 3 Mr. Petersand's Cats [and Kittens]
3 3 Our Friendly Friends
3 3 The Adventures of Arab. Incomplete
3 3 Elizabeth. Unpublished
3 4 The Mystery of Twin Moon Mountain. Typescript, unpublished
3 5 Pegasus in Bikini. Includes sketches (Draft of a column for the Fire Island Weekly, ca. 1957)
3 6 One Is Good But Two Are Better
3 6 Hannibal. Includes sketches, unpublished
3 6 Draft of untitled speech on art in children's books
3 7 Read About the Busman. Notes and sketches
3 7 Read About the Fireman. Notes and sketches
3 7 Read About the Garbage Man. Typescript and galley proof, unpublished
4 1 Round Trip Spaceship [?]
4 2 Spaceship in the Park. Rough draft
4 3 Spaceship in the Park. Typescript with corrections
4 4 Spaceship in the Park. Galley proof
4 5 Spaceship Under the Apple Tree. Dramatization, typed
4 6 Miscellaneous "Spaceship" sketches and layouts
4 7 Too Many Mittens. By Florence Slobodkin. Typescript with corrections
5 1 Tommy. Includes sketches, unpublished
5 2 Wilbur the Warrior. Original title: Two Suits of Armour, featuring a king named Horace
5 2 Untitled story of a thermometer
5 3 Wilbur the Warrior. Draft with sketches
5 3 Autobiography of Manny Lipschitz [Louis Slobodkin]. Holograph draft, 2 p.
5 4 Wilbur the Warrior. Sketches only
5 5 Wilbur the Warrior. Loose leaf sketches
5 6 Wilbur the Warrior. Typescript
5 7 Yasu and the Strangers. Draft
5 7 Colette and the Princess. Draft (see also box l, folder 8)
5 7 Moon Blossom and the Golden Penny. Draft
5 7 The Polka-Dot Goat. Draft (see also box l, folder 8)
5 7 Peter the Pelican. Draft, unpublished
5 8 Miscellaneous artwork for: Magic Michael; Tom Sawyer; Jonathan and the Rainbow; The King and the Nobel Blacksmith; and Peter the Great
5 9 Miscellaneous sketches; letter drafts
5 10 Set designs for an unidentified play
5 11 Book reviews of others' work by Louis Slobodkin

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Series:  Correspondence with publishers
6 1 Franklin Watts, Inc.
6 2 Harcourt, Brace and Co., Inc
6 3 Houghton Mifflin Co.
6 4 Macmillan Company 1943-1945
6 5 Macmillan Company 1946-1947
6 6 Macmillan Company 1948-1959
6 7 Macmillan Company 1960-1963
6 8 Macmillan Company 1964-1965
6 9 Macmillan Company 1966-1969
6 10 Macmillan Company 1970-1972
7 1 Macmillan Company 1973-1976; undated
7 2 Vanguard 1943-1968
7 3 Vanguard 1969-1974; undated
7 4 World Publishing

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Series:  General correspondence
7 5 A
7 6 B
7 7 C
8 1 D
8 2 E
8 3 F
8 4 G
8 5 H
8 6 I-J
8 7 K
8 8 L
8 9 Ma-Mi
9 1 Mo-Mz
9 2 N
9 3 O
9 4 P
9 5 Q-R
9 6 Sa-Sl
9 7 Sm-Su
9 8 T
9 9 U-Z and unidentified

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Series:  Subject Files
10 1 An American Group
10 2 Artist's Equity Association
10 3 Autobiographical fragments
10 4-5 Book Week Fair
10 6 Clippings, biographical
10 7 Clippings, book fairs and chalk talks
10 8 Conferences and symposiums on children's literature
10 9 Filmstrip adaptations of children's books
10 10 Illustrations in periodicals by Slobodkin
11 1 Kerlan Collection and other collections of children's literature
11 2 Master Institute of United Arts
11 3 Memorabilia, personal, including birth certificate and passport
11 4 "Pegasus in Bikini." Column by Slobodkin for Fire Island Weekly June 6, 1957 - August 22, 1957
11 5 Periodical articles by, about, or mentioning Slobodkin
11 6 Record Book (notebook with inventory of story flats and sculptures on hand)
11 7 Sculptors' Guild
11 8 Sculpture and Slobodkin
12 1 The Title Page. Macmillan Juvenile Dept. newsletters 1945-1969
12 2 World's Fair, 1940 (materials relating to the "Lincoln Statue" incident) 1940

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Series:  Art Exhibition Catalogs
12 3 Art Exhibition catalogs 1929-1937
12 4 Art Exhibition catalogs 1938
12 5 Art Exhibition catalogs 1939
12 6 Art Exhibition catalogs 1940
12 7 Art Exhibition catalogs 1941
13 1 Art Exhibition catalogs 1942
13 2 Art Exhibition catalogs 1943-1949
13 3 Art Exhibition catalogs Undated

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Series:  Book Reviews
13 4 The Adventures of Arab
13 4 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
13 5 The Beautiful Culpeppers
13 5 Bixxy and the Secret Message
13 6 Circus April lst
13 6 Clean Clarence
13 7 Colette and the Princess
13 7 Cowboy Twins
13 8 Dinny and Danny
13 8 Evie and Cookie
13 8 Evie and the Wonderful Kangaroo
13 9 Excuse Me - Certainly
13 9 The First Book of Drawing
13 10 Fo'castle Waltz
13 10 The Friendly Animals
13 11 Gogo the French Seagull
13 11 A Good Place to Hide
13 12 The Horse with the High-Heeled Shoes
13 12 The Hundred Dresses
13 13 Hustle and Bustle
13 13 lo Sono
13 14 Jonathan and the Rainbow
14 1 The King and the Noble Blacksmith
14 1 The Late Cuckoo
14 1 Little 0
14 2 Love and Knishes
14 2 Luigi and the Long-Nosed Soldier
14 3 The Magic Fishbone
14 3 Magic Michael
14 4 Many Moons
14 4 The Marshmallow Ghosts
14 4 Martin's Dinosaur
14 5 The Middle Moffat
14 5 Millions and Millions
14 6 Mister Mushroom
14 6 Mr. Petersand's Cats (and Kittens)
14 7 Mr. Spindles and the Spiders
14 7 The Moffats
14 8 Moon Blossom and the Golden Penny
14 8 Nomi and the Lovely Animals
14 9 One Is Good but Two Are Better
14 9 Our Friendly Friends
14 10 The Polka-Dot Goat
14 10 Read About the Busman
14 10 Read About the Fireman
14 10 Read About the Policeman
14 10 Read About the Postman
14 10 Round Trip Space Ship
14 10 Rufus M
14 11 Saucepan Journey
14 11 Sculpture Principles and Practices
14 11 The Seaweed Hat
14 12 The Shoes Fit for a King
14 12 The Space Ship in the Park
14 12 The Space Ship Returns to the Apple Tree
14 12 The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree
14 13 Thank you - You're Welcome
14 13 The Three-Seated Space Ship
14 13 Too Many Mittens
14 14 Up High and Down Low
14 14 Upside-Down Town
14 15 The Warm-Hearted Polar Bear
14 15 The Wide-Awake Owl
15 1 Wilbur the Warrior
15 1 Yasu and the Strangers
15 2 Miscellaneous other titles and publicity

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Series:  Royalty Statements
15 3 E. P. Dutton 1965-1975
15 4 Franklin Watts Inc. 1958-1965
15 5 Franklin Watts Inc. 1966-1967
15 6 Franklin Watts Inc. 1968-1970
15 7 Franklin Watts Inc. 1971-1973
15 8 Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. 1943-1959
15 9 Harcourt, Brace and Company, Inc. 1960-1973
15 10 Houghton Mifflin Company 1949-1977
16 1 Little, Brown
16 2 Lothrop, Lee and Shepard Co, Inc.
16 3 Macmillan Company 1945-1959
16 4 Macmillan Company 1960-1962
16 5 Macmillan Company 1963-January 1966
16 6 Macmillan Company April 1966-1967
16 7 Macmillan Company 1968
16 8 Macmillan Company 1969
17 1 Macmillan Company 1970
17 2 Macmillan Company 1971
17 3 Macmillan Company 1972
17 4 Macmillan Company 1973
17 5 Macmillan Company 1974
17 6 Macmillan Company 1975
17 7 Thomas Y. Crowell Co. 1959-1973
18 1 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1946-1958
18 2 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1959-1961
18 3 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1962-1964
18 4 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1965-1966
18 5 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1967-1968
18 6 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1969-1970
18 7 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1971-1972
18 8 Vanguard Press, Inc. 1973-1974
18 9 World Publishing Company 1945-1969
Package #1 Loose leaf scrap book covering sculpture and writing careers

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  • Personal Names :
  • Thurber, James, 1894-1961
  • Subject Terms :
  • Authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Children's literature, American--Authorship
  • Children's literature, American--Illustrations
  • Illustrators--United States
  • Sculptors--United States
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Exhibition catalogs

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