Historic Children’s Voices, 1799-1899

Youth's AlmanacThe American Antiquarian Society has been awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Made through the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources program, the grant supports the project Historic Children’s Voices, 1799-1899.

This project will provide intellectual access, via detailed cataloging and digitization, to a range of primary source materials written and created by American children. Through Historic Children’s Voices, 286 items, comprising 11,491 pages, will be made freely accessible via a dedicated page on this website, including an instructional webinar on searching for children’s voices in archives, and curricular guides for college and K-12 teachers. A virtual public program connecting children and their parents with the children of the past and a scholarly symposium in the spring of 2024 to discuss the use of child-authored texts as historical evidence are also planned.

The holdings to be digitized are not children’s literature, i.e., works created BY adults FOR children, but rather are direct testimony as well as imaginative works created BY children. As such, they constitute an archive of historical evidence not previously accessible. While literature for children is cataloged and indexed, writings by children—strong historical evidence directly from a major portion of the citizenry—have not been cataloged as such and are difficult to find in archives as, for example, diarists’ ages are rarely available in the metadata. At the present moment, when contemporary children’s voices are channeled through quarantine diaries and TikTok clips, providing invaluable documentary evidence for how a significant population endured a challenging time, Historic Children’s Voices provides access to parallel sources from the past.

Ride on a Hog. BIB 477221Manuscript Periodical, The Spider. Hopkinton, MA, 1819. BIB 395865Connecting the essential work of making collections accessible through open-access digitization and extensive cataloging with an array of scholarly, educational, and public programming, Historic Children’s Voices will engage all of AAS in amplifying voices and perspectives too often overlooked.


About the images

  • Youth's almanac, for the year 1846. By Truman H. Safford, Jr., Bradford, Vt., 1846. BIB 443424
  • Manuscript periodical, The Spider. Hopkinton, Mass., 1819. BIB 395865
  • Miniature book, Ride on a Hog. By A.E. Pitts, Akron, Ohio, 1877. BIB 477221


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