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Historical Children's Books at the Library of Congress: Selected Resources

Digital Collections

As you explore the Library's website, you are likely to run across old favorites and unexpected treasures. You will encounter historical mindsets and perspectives that may be both illuminating and uncomfortable. Feel free to Ask a Librarian for help when you have questions.

Primary Sources

The Library's digital collections contain a variety of primary source materials related to historical children's books, including scanned books, articles from historical newspapers, and prints and photographs. We have provided links below to some relevant collections, as well as tips and strategies for searching the Library's website more broadly, to find additional resources on this topic.

Browsing and Searching for Digitized Children's Books

Browse the Library's digital collections to find examples of scanned books throughout the site. Use the navigation facets along the left side of the page to narrow your results. While searching an individual collection can sometimes provide more focused and streamlined results, searching across the collections by format accesses a greater range of materials (and introduces an element of surprise!).

Search Tips for Children's Books

Catalog records for older children's books in the online collections do not generally indicate the age of the intended audience. A subset of records may contain juvenile subject headings, but the majority do not. You may find it helpful to experiment. Try searching or browsing the collections for the name of a particular author or illustrator. Consider naming patterns or keyword phrases that publishers or authors may have used to signal that their books were intended for children. We have provided some examples of each of these approaches below.

Browse using Subject or Genre Headings

These are some examples of headings associated with children's materials on the Library's website:

Browse by Author/Creator Name

Browse by Library of Congress Classification

Search by Keyword/Phrase

Keyword phrases like these may also be useful when searching for historical children's books in the digital collections:

Boy's book
Child's book
Child's History
Children of the...
Children's Stories
Fairy tales
First book of...
For young people
Girl's book
Little Folks'
Little ones
Little people
Nursery tales
Stories children
Story book
Young Readers

Using Facets to Narrow Your Search

Use the facets (narrowing strategies) along the left side of the search screen to navigate your search results. Facets are particularly useful for quickly narrowing down a large set of results to the most relevant materials.  Some useful facets include:

  • Original Format (Photographs, Legislation, Maps, Manuscripts, Books, etc.)
  • Online Format (Image, PDF, Online Text, EPUB)
    Note - Selecting "Image" is a good option for narrowing results to scanned books available from the Library's website. (Many books from the Library's collections have been scanned by partners, and we are in the process of moving the resulting files to the Library's site. For the moment, these scans may be accessed through links in their records in the Library's online catalog).
  • Date
  • Location
  • Subject
    Note - Select the link at the bottom of the initial list to view More Subjects >> You will be able to view these either alphabetically or by number of matches.
  • Language
  • Part of/Collection

Other Formats

Historic Newspapers

Examples of articles from this collection:

Prints, Drawings & Photographs

Examples of prints and photographs from these collections


Examples of audio recordings from these collections