Guide to the Virginia Lee Burton Papers
ca. 1937-1962

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Overview of the Collection

Creator: Burton, Virginia, 1909-1968
Title: Virginia Lee Burton papers
Dates: ca. 1937-1962 ( inclusive )
Quantity: 2.5 linear feet (5 containers)
Collection Number: Ax 839
Summary: Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was an illustrator and author of children's books. The collection includes sketches and finished illustrations for the books Calico the Wonder Horse; Or the Saga of Stewy Slinker, CHOO CHOO, The Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away (both by Burton), The Emperor's New Clothes (written by Hans Christian Anderson) and others. This collection of sketches and illustrations demonstrate the detail and care that Virginia Lee Burton put into her work.
Repository: Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon, 97403-1299
(541) 346-3068
spcarref@uoregon.edu

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

Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) wrote and illustrated many timeless and well-loved children's books, including The Little House, which was awarded the Caldecott medal in1943.

She was born in Newton Centre, Massachusetts on August 30, 1909, and later studied art and ballet in California. Her drawings have appeared in the Boston Transcript, where she was a member of the staff for two year. She married George Demetrios, who had been her sculpture teacher, and they had two children. For many years they lived in Folly County, Gloucester, Massachusetts. She died in 1968.

The Virginia Lee Burton Papers are an important addition to the University of Oregon's Children's Collection because it demonstrates the stages of work that go into illustrating, from initial sketch to finished book. The numerous preparatory sketches, the reworking of illustrations that had not proven personally satisfactory to Ms. Burton, and the demands for quality reproduction of the artwork indicate her meticulous attention to detail.

Content Description

The Virginia Lee Burton Papers contain sketchbooks, preliminary sketches and final illustrations for the books for both first and second editions of Calico, the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Slinker (written by Burton) and The Fast Sooner Hound (written by Arna Bontemps and Jack Conroy). Also included are final illustrations for the books CHOO CHOO, The Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (both written by Burton) and The Emperor's New Clothes (written by Hans Christian Anderson). Finally, the proofs for the book Life Story are included.

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], Virginia Lee Burton Papers, Ax 839, Special Collections & University Archives, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon.

Administrative Information

Arrangement :

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series: Calico The Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker (1st edition)

Series: Calico The Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker (2nd edition)

Series: CHOO CHOO, the Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away

Series: The Emperor's New Clothes

Series: The Fast Sooner Hound

Series: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Series: Life Story

Acquisition Information :  

Gift of Virginia Lee Burton in 1978.

Processing Note :  

Collection processed by processing staff, April 1978.


Detailed Description of the Collection

Calico the Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker, 1st edition

Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.

Container(s)
Description
Box
1 Sketch book, Rough Sketches 5" x 7 1/2", pen and ink
1 Sketch book, Defined Sketches 5" x 7 1/2", pen and ink
1 Sketch book, Mock-up with text, 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", pen and ink, red cover
1 Preliminary sketches, (4): 2 @ 7" x 3 1/2"; 2 @ 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" for pages 4, 5, 8
1 Final jacket illustration, 18" x 6 1/4"
1 Final title page illustration, 8 1/2" x 5 1/4"
1 Final illustrations, pen and ink: 24 @ 7" x 3 1/2"; 68 @ 3 1/2" x 3 1/2, for pages 1- 58
1 Printed captions, 1 envelope

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Calico the Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker, 2nd edition

Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.

Container(s)
Description
Box
1 Sketches
2 @ 5 1/2" x 4 1/4".2 @ 8" x 5 1/4".6 @ 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" for pages 1, 8, 14, 18, 28, 55, 58, and end papers.Final jacket, cover, end paper, and title page illustrations, scratch board, 6 x 8 1/2".Final illustrations, 64 @ 3 1/2" x 3 1/2"; 26 @ 6" x 8 1/2".Proofs, 3 per sheet, 2 copies.

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CHOO CHOO, the Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away

Written and illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.

Container(s)
Description
Box
2 Final Illustrations, black china-marker, 32 @ 9' x 12'; 5 @ 18" x 12"

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The Emperor's New Clothes by Hans Christian Anderson

Illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.

Container(s)
Description
Box
2 Final cover illustration, 11" x 9", black and white, scratchboard
2 Final jacket, endpapers, title page, and dedication page (7 1/4" x 9 1/2") illustrations in watercolor; 14 1/2" x 9 1/4" except where noted
2 Final illustrations; watercolor; 14 1/2" x 9 1/4"; pages 1-44
2 Page proofs; many small, loose illustration proofs and directions to printers, 1 envelope.

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The Fast Sooner Hound. Written by Arna Bontemps and Jack Conroy

Illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton.

Container(s)
Description
Box
2 Sketchbook; brown paper bound; 6 1/2" x 8 1/2", rough sketches; pen or pencil.
2 Sketchbook; beige spiral; 8" x 10"; watercolor, rough to finished sketches
2 Rough sketches; 2 @ 8 1/2" x 11" (pencil); 2 @ 8" x 10 1/2" (1 pen, 1 pencil)
2 Rough sketches; (27), loose; watercolor; various sizes; pages 2-5, 7-9, 14-18, 21, 23-28
2 Final jacket illustration; watercolor; 19 1/2" x 8 1/2"
2 Final cover illustration; black ink; 9 1/2" x 9"
2 Final endpapers illustration; watercolor; 8 1/2" x 19"
2 Final title page illustration; Matted; watercolor; 9 1/2" x 4 1/2"
2 Final illustrations; (26), various sizes; watercolor; pages 1-29, with 5 and 7 missing

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Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel

Written and Illustrated by Virginia Lee Burton

Container(s)
Description
Box
3 End papers illustrations, pen and ink; 34" x 15"
3 Title page illustration, blue pencil, 13" x 20"
3 Illustrations; pen and ink; matted size 34" x 15"; pages 2-42 with pages 1, 16 and 17 missing
3 Unused illustration; matted; 15" x 20"
3 Tear sheets (3), for pages 15-20

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Life Story
Container(s)
Description
Box
Oversize Proofs

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Subjects

  • Personal Names :
  • Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875
  • Bontemps, Arna Wendell, 1902-1973
  • Burton, Virginia Lee, 1909-1968
  • Subject Terms :
  • Children's literature, American--Illustrations
  • Illustrated children's books--United States
  • Illustration of books--United States--20th century
  • Women illustrators--United States
  • Young adult literature, American--Authorship
    • Form or Genre Terms :
    • Book illustrations

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