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A Guide to the Papers of Louise Seaman Bechtel

Finding aid prepared by Carla Summers

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

August 2004

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Bechtel, Louise Seaman, 1894-1985
Title: Papers of Louise Seaman Bechtel
Dates: 1917-1986
Abstract: The Papers of Louise Seaman Bechtel document the publishing of children's literature in the United States at mid-century and the rise of women as editors and publishers in the United States. The collection contains correspondence with several famous children's books authors and illustrators.
Extent: 6 Linear feet. 10 Boxes; 1 scrapbook.
Identification: MS Group 136
Language(s): English
Online ContentItems from this collection have been digitized and are available online in the UF Digital Collections. For more information please see the note below.

Biographical/Historical Note

Editor, author, lecturer on children's literature. Louise Seaman Bechtel, 1894-1985, served as Editor and Head of the Juvenile Book Department of Macmillan Publishing Company in New York City. A 1915 graduate of Vassar College, Bechtel began work for Macmillan in 1919. After leaving Macmillan in 1934, Bechtel worked as a freelance writer and lecturer. She was the editor of the children's section of the New York Herald Tribune Book Review from 1948 to 1956 and was associate editor of The Horn Book Magazine, a journal on literature for children, from 1939 to 1957. She married Edwin DeTurch Bechtel in 1929. In 1980, Ms. Bechtel donated portions of her papers, an extensive book collection, correspondence and memorabilia to Vassar College.

Scope and Content

Autobiography, correspondence, notes, travel information, itineraries, receipts, speeches, writings, diaries, photographs and miscellaneous papers. The collection is arranged by into groups. The first group contains Bechtel's correspondence and writings arranged alphabetically by title, the second group contains the manuscript and notes for her autobiography, the third group contains her diaries and the final group contains scrapbooks, slides and miscellaneous materials. This collection contains extensive documentation of Ms. Bechtel's writing including her speeches and articles. Of special note in this collection is the correspondence with Berta and Elmer Hader, children's book authors. This correspondence contains extensive marginalia of delightful pen, ink and watercolor illustrations by the Haders. Box 9 contains 43 Christmas greetings illustrated by the Haders. Also included are diaries from world travels and information on a remedial reading project.

Access or Use Restrictions


The collection is open for research.

Administrative Information

Alternative Format Available

A digital reproduction of Louise Bechtel's autobiography is available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Papers of Louise Seaman Bechtel, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

The collection was received from the Cerimon Foundation after Ms. Bechtel's death. This Foundation was created by Ms. Bechtel to endow the George A Smathers Libraries Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature.

Contents List

Group 1: Correspondence and Writing

Box Folder
11 Biographical Information including:
11 Books Children Like and Why... The Parents Magazine, November, 1930
11 Books for Young People: Introducing Louise Seaman Bechtel, May Lamberton Becker, n.d.
11 Mr. Winkle Moves to Vassar, Nancy Willard Lindbloom and Joyce Bickerstaff Riley, Alumnae and Alumni of Vassar College, Alumnae House, Poughkeepsie, NY.; Vol. LXXVII, No. 3, Spring/Summer 1981, p. 18. About Ms. Bechtel's gift to Vassar, 1981
12 Biographical Information on Edwin DeT. Bechtel
13 Booklists and Reviews
14 Clippings
15 Correspondence, 1931-1971
16 Correspondence, Berta and Elmer Hader (Letters from the Haders are color-illustrated), 1944-1966
17 Correspondence, n.d.
18 Genealogies, Seaman, Van Pelt and Van Brunt
19 Notes, Travel Notes, Poems, etc.
110 Other Authors
111-13 Other Authors, Margaret Pinckney Allen King ("Seen by Lightning," "Comics and Conduct," correspondence and poems)
1A1 A Book List for Boys and Girls. New York: Macmillan. "First catalog made by LHS for her department at Macmillans, 1920." With notes by Bechtel on the number of titles already published and the number published under her tenure. 1920
1A2 Macmillan Books for Boys and Girls. New York: Macmillan. With some manuscript notations by Bechtel. 1921-1927
1A3 Macmillan Books for Boys and Girls (1928), Reading List: Catalog of Macmillan Books for Boys and Girls (1929), and The Horn Book, v.4:3 (August, 1928). Manuscript notations by Bechtel. The Horn Book includes "The First Children's Department in Book Publishing," p. 3-6, referring to Macmillan's and to Bechtel's editorship. 1928-1929
1A4 Macmillan Books for Boys and Girls, 1920, 1926, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1962-1963, 1969 (seven catalogs) 1920-1969
21 Photographs - Bechtel
22 Photographs - Family and miscellaneous
23 Remedial Reading Project (includes "Betsey's New Hat"), 1937
24 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, A (7 items)
24 About Helen Sewell, The Horn Book, July 1934
24 About the Biancos, The Horn Book, March 1926
24 Adventures in a Library, 2 talks for Katonah Library, October 16, 1944 and December 1946
24 Adventures in Bookmaking, Vassar Quarterly, ca. 1920
24 The A.I.G.A. Children's Book Show, 1958
24 The Art of Illustrating Books for the Younger Readers, NYT Book Review, November 10, 1940
24 Artzybasheff, Boris (1899-1965).
25 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, B (8 items)
25 [Bedford Village Talks], n.d.
25 Bedford Hills Public Schools, Book Week, 1940
25 Beginning of Genius, Child Study, May, 1926
25 The Book Buyers of Tomorrow, Atlantic Monthly, 1927
25 The Book Nook: New Year's News From a Publisher, 1931
25 Bookmaking for Boys and Girls, Sept. 9, 1927
25 Books Before Five - A Selected List, n.d.
26 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, B, continued (7 items)
26 Books in Search of Children, 10th Bowker Memorial Speech
26 Books in Search of Children: An Exhibition from the Private Collection of LSB.
26 Books for Girls, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sept. 18, 1927
26 Books for Teens, Independent Education, November, 1928
26 Books on the Ladder of Time
26 By Way of Introduction, A. A. Milne, London: Methmen & Co., 1929, a review
26 Brown, Margaret Wise: Laureate of the Nursery, Horn Book, June, 1958
27 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, C (14 items)
27 Can Writing be Taught? The Horn Book, November, 1940
27 Catholicism in Mexico, n.d.
27 Celebrating 50th Anniversary of Children's Libraries in US, ALA Convention, July, 1950
27 "Changes in the Children's Book World: 1924-1949", n.d.
27 Children and Poetry in Several Eras, n.d.
27 Children and Their Books, The Baptist, 1926
27 Childrens Books in Spain, n.d.
27 Christmas Books, 1961
27 Christmas Books for Boys and Girls, The Club Candle, ca. 1920
27 "Collecting" People, n.d.
27 The Comics and Children's Books, The Horn Book, 1941
27 Comics and Culture, n.d.
27 Comics and Culture and a Harvard Report, 1940
27 The "Comics"- The Revolt of the Children, n.d.
28 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, E-G (10 items)
28 Eighteenth Century Writers, Skidmore College Lecture, August, 1949
28 England in Words and Pictures: A Treasure Ship Article, The Classmate, 1930
28 Finding Books in Europe, n.d.
28 Finding Stories for Problem Readers, The Children's News, March, 1936
28 The First European Trip for the American Express Company, 1917 and 1920
28 From Dr. Doolittle to Superman: 25 Years of Children's Books, n.d.
28 The Giant in Children, 1941
28 Giving the Young Person a Book, 1924
28 Graduating Into Good Reading, The Classmate, February, 1936
28 Grolier Club, New York City, On Ladies Night, Dec. 1954
31 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, H-L (13 items)
31 A Hands up Talk, 1941
31 The Hobby-Horse and Pegasus, n.d.
31 A Home Nature Library, n.d.
31 The Horn Book [The Louise Bechtel issue], August, 1928
31 How Some Books Came To Be, 1928?
31 The Illustration of the Christmas Book, The New York Herald, Dec. 2, 1923
31 [Introduction], n.d.
31 Jury for the First Show of Children's Books, American Institute of Graphic Arts, 1941
31 The Jury Reports, American Society of Graphic Arts, 1944
31 King, Margaret, Eulogy, Johnson Chapel, February 17, 1967
31 Lathrop Exhibit, Mrs. Bechtel's account, n.d.
31 A Little Talk About Poetry, 1940?
31 Long, Long Ago, MacMillan Children's Book Dept. Newsletter, 1969
32 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, M-P (17 items)
32 MacMillan Children's Book Department, n.d.
32 Massee, May, Publisher, The Horn Book, July-August, 1936
32 Modern Book Making for Boys and Girls, Independent Education, Nov. 1927
32 More Books in Search of More Children, Geneseo, NY, July 1949
32 My first speech, National Arts Club, 1922
32 My last speech at NYPL, n.d.
32 Ned and the arts, n.d.
32 New Books for Boys and Girls, America and its Friends, n.d.
32 Not Only in Spring, The Atlantic Bookshelf, 1927
32 Notes on Children's Books, Publishers' Weekly, 1920
32 Nursery School Snapshots , three short stories, n.d.
32 An Old Poetry Scrap Book, n.d.
32 On The Ladder Of Time, Dedication, new wing, St. Mathew's House, November 6, 1960
32 The Patient Speaks, Library Bureau, United Hospital Fund, December, 1941
32 Pratt Institute, January 1941
32 Presentation of the Julia Isham Taylor Books, Cosmopolitan Club, February 7, 1940
32 Prose Style for Boys and Girls, 1941
33 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, R-S (11 items)
33 Rackman, Arthur: His Life and Work, n.d
33 Reading as Experience, Child Study Association, 1936
33 A Rightful Heritage, Pittsburgh, Book Week, 1953
33 Sewell, Helen and Her Art for Children, Horn Book, 1946
33 Shelving Child Book Problems, Charm, 1928
33 A Short List of Christmas Books, n.d.
33 Short Stories for Short People, n.d.
33 Sixty Top Books for School Use, November, 1952
33 Some Help for the Puzzled Parent, 1930
33 Some Modern Authors, Elementary English Review, 1929
33 The Story of Mr. Winkle's Room, n.d.
34 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, T (7 items)
34 Teacher with a Gun, 1939?
34 That Budding Sense of Humor, The National Parent-Teacher, 1935
34 Thinking About Children's Classics, The Packet, 1955
34 To England and France, 1952
34 Trends, High Spots, Puzzles, Forecasts, of Fifty Years, NYPL 1960
34 Tribute to Babouska, Princess Marie Gagarin, 1864-1946,
34 Tribute to Margery Bianco, Elementary English Review, 1935
35 Speeches and Writings by Louise Seaman Bechtel, V-Y (9 items)
35 Vassar College Class Book, 1915
35 What is Literature for Children, c. 1940
35 When a Publisher Makes a Catalog, 1929
35 Who Are Your Heroes?, 1945
35 Why Do We Read Fiction?, 193?
35 WJZ Broadcast, n.d.
35 Women and the Book Publishing House, News-Bulletin, Bureau of Vocational Information, 1924
35 Writers' Conference, Boulder, Colorado, 1940
35 Your Christmas Picture, Classmate, December 1936
36 Speeches and writing, no title
37 Speeches, articles and odd jobs by L.S. and L.S.B (list of articles, publications, etc.)
38 Travel, Notes
41 Travels, Notes, itineraries and receipts
42 Travels, Notes

Group 2: Autobiography

Box Folder
43 Chapter 1: At the Turn of the Century
43 Chapter 2: Scholar or Editor
43 Chapter 3: The Cold World Turns Kind
44 Chapter 4: To Be Released On...
44 Chapter 5: "Good Morning Mrs. Seaman, Pray Be Seated"
45 Chapter 6: Catalogues and Classics
45 Chapter 7: Interlude, Europe
46 Chapter 8: Some Famous Books (missing)
46 Chapter 9: Very Special
46 Chapter 10: Riches in Small Packages
47 Chapter 10: "Riches in Small Packages" continued
47 Chapter 11: All In the Days Work
47 Chapter 12: The Wonders of Reality
51 Chapter 13: All Those Speeches!
51 Chapter 14: Interlude: An Anthology
52 Chapter 15: Odd Jobs for A Teacher
52 Chapter 16: The Old Hand Returns to the Fray
52 Chapter 17: Epilogue: In Mr. Winkle's Room
53 Autobiography, miscellaneous pages and notes

Group 3: Diaries, Slides, Scrapbooks, and Miscellaneous Materials

Box Folder
51 Diaries, 1918-1926
51 1. School Notes, n.d.
51 2. Collected Poems, 1918
51 3. Poetry scrapbook, 1920
51 4. Reading, 1922
51 5. School days, 1922-1926
61 Diaries, 1925-1935
61 6. Macmillan trip, 1925-1926
61 7. Untitled, 1927
61 8. Chilmark, 1928
61 9-10. Wedding/Morocco, 1929
61 11. Hospital year/learning to walk, 1931?
61 12-14. Europe, 1931
61 15. Europe, 1933
61 16. Egypt and Sicily, 1935
71 Diaries, 1925-1935
71 17-18. England and Paris, 1937
71 19. Notes, lectures, books, 1940-1944
71 20. Home, office, roses, 1946
71 21. Mexico, 1947
71 22. Paris, 1947-1948
71 23-24. France and Spain, 1949
71 25-27. Europe, 1955
72 Scrapbook: About Some Famous Books. Clippings made over many years by LSB (includes reviews of "Books in Search of Children" and Macmillan celebration of LSB 50th anniversary), n.d.
73 Cousin Jessie's Undone Children's Book (notebook with illustrations by Jessie Van Brunt and text by Bechtel), n.d.
74 A Bibliography of Children's Art Literature by Kenneth Marantz, 1965
75 Catalogue of An Exhibition for Books for Children (Towner Art Gallery), 1949
76 Books for the Teen Age (New York Public Library), 1986
77 "Development of Lifetime Reading Habits," by Jean D. Grambs, 1954
78 Signal: Approaches to Children's Books, 1970 September
79 "Hidden Hungers: The Care and Feeding of the Young Reader" by Frank G. Jennings, 1955
710 According to Us, Claremont Children's Book Center, 1966
711 T'ing Wing's Day in the City (cut-outs and text), n.d.
81 Slides of children's books published at Macmillan by Bechtel (used in lectures)
91 Christmas Greetings from Berta and Elmer Hader. Four printed, colored illustrated Christmas greetings, sizes 5x6.5" from 9.5x12.5", two with a supplied date of 1926, and one 1920s. Two have autograph greeting to Louise and Ned, signed "Berta" and "Berta and Elmer." 1926 and n.d.
92 Christmas Greetings from Berta and Elmer Hader. 39 printed, colored illustrated Christmas posters, approximately 18x12". Twenty-one have supplied dates of 1937-1975; the others are undated. Almost all have autograph greeting on the verso to "Louise and Ned" from "Berta and Elmer." 1937-1975 and n.d.
93 Scrapbook: Hospital Memoirs 1931-32 and Old Christmas Cards. Includes illustrations by Field, the Haders, Van Loon, etc. (Not stored in box) 1931-1932 and n.d.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Bechtel, Louise Seaman, 1894-1985--Correspondence
Bechtel, Louise Seaman, 1894-1985--Diaries.
Bechtel, Louise Seaman, 1894-1985--Journeys
Bianco, Margery Williams, 1880-1944
Children's literature
Field, Rachel, 1894-1942
Hader, Berta--Correspondence
Hader, Elmer, 1889---Correspondence
Petersham, Maud Fuller, 1890-1971
Petersham, Miska, 1888-1960
Women editors
Women in the book industries and trade

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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