Melanie Cataldo

Melanie Cataldo
2020 Hearst Fellow
Worcester, MA

Research at AAS


The Making

As a 2020 Hearst Foundation Creative Artist Fellow, I completed research for the book The Making, an illustrated novel set in New England during the 1940s-1950s. In the book, two sisters, Bea and Millie Cogswell, must live by the rigid traditions of their aging grandmother - always performing as true ladies of the 1800s should. My time in the AAS reading room was spent researching ephemera in the United States during the mid to late 19th century, including illustrated cautionary tales for children, etiquette pamphlets, materials for girls, pen & ink artwork, and writings and images depicting the daily lives of children. The goal of my research was to become familiar with 19th century popular culture so that I could accurately represent, in writing and illustration, the struggle of two young girls living by 19th century standards in mid 20th century New England.

Studying at the American Antiquarian Society was a fantastic experience. The staff of the AAS was available, helpful, and genuinely interested in finding sources related to my project. Thank you to the American Antiquarian Society and the Hearst Foundation for supporting creative artist fellowships.


The Making synopsis

A family with ancient power has thrived in Massachusetts since the establishment of the New England colonies. As the generations passed, descendants of the family decided to end the use of their power; it was too unpredictable, too dangerous. They hid their abilities and refused to trigger the genetic mutation lying dormant in the blood of their children.

In 1940, the Cogswells were the only family left practicing the ancient ways. And after a fatal accident, it seemed the power would end with 13-year-old Bea and Millie Cogswell. But, the Cogswell girls broke the rules. They fled, dedicating their lives to finding other descendants of the bloodline. The twins developed a book of instruction for the new generation, and what was meant to be a guide in sharing the power of their blood became a twisted game of sacrifice and punishment to weed out the undeserving.


About the Fellow

Melanie Cataldo is an artist living in Worcester, Massachusetts. She enjoys using pencil, oil, acrylic, and digital paint to build her illustrations. She has illustrated picture books for Learning A-Z, Candlewick Press, and Flyaway Books and has also designed illustrations for packaging, clothing, signage, and educational materials. On April 21, 2021, Melanie demonstrated how to create paper marbling at home during the AAS virtual program Making Marbling: A Beginner's Guide to the History and Practice of the Art. Melanie is currently working on a picture book with Flyaway Books called Hiding Baby Moses, to be released on April 27, 2021.

Quick Links

Catalog | Login | Digital A-Z


Monday: 9-5
Tuesday: 10-5
Wednesday: 9-5
Thursday: 9-5
Friday: 9-5

Keep in Touch

Link to AAS Facebook Link to AAS TwitterLink to AAS BlogLink to AAS Instagram   Link to AAS YouTube