Monday, September 28, 2015

Exploring the Kerlan Collection: Ellen Raskin

I've written many times about my love of the writer/designer/illustrator Ellen Raskin (see the list at the end of this post), but recently I got serious about my near-obsession: I went to see the collection of her original work held at the Kerlan Collection of children's literature at the University of Minnesota.

I know, I know, I live not too far from the campus, and I've been aware of these holdings for years. But somehow I never quite got there to see them.

Then I happened to meet the past director of the collection at a party and told her about my interest. She said I should do it as soon as possible because, well, you just never know what will happen in life. So I finally got off the dime and made an appointment to see some of the collection.

Anyone can use the Kerlan's archives, but you need to make an appointment and go during business hours. You tell them in advance which boxes you want to see (selecting from this list) and a pile of large, gray, flat boxes will be waiting for you on a cart.

You have to take out one item at a time and keep them all in order. Each piece is wrapped in acid-free paper, so there's a lot of material moving around. Lots of standing over tables, too, stooping slightly, so it's a bit hard on the back.

But so worth it. Over the next week, I'll post five times with photos of what I saw, covering these topics:
The Kerlan Collection doesn't have anything from The Westing Game (that material is held at the University of Wisconsin), but they have just about everything else.

More to come tomorrow!


This is the cover artwork for Moe Q. McGlutch, He Smoked Too Much, published in 1973. I had never seen this book before my visit to the Kerlan Collection. Among all the work of Raskin's I saw in the collection, this is the book that has the most complete material. The box contained everything Raskin used to create the book and it shows her process from beginning to end. And let me tell you, it looks exhausting.


Past posts about Ellen Raskin:

Ellen Raskin

Ellen Raskin Speaks About The Westing Game

The Westing Game in Person

Clues About Ellen Raskin in The Tattooed Potato

Ellen Raskin's Legacy at the Milwaukee Public Library

The Last of the Raskin Signatures

A Reminder of Ellen Raskin


Michael Leddy said...

I love that librarian-style generosity. No need for a “research project” to gain admittance. They love to share the treasures, or at least they often do.

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

I don't know where the collection is now, but for 10 years I worked in Walter Library, in which they were also located, and never visited. So glad that you did!