Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection, 1891-2002 (majority within 1950-1990)
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research. Original audiovisual materials have been reformatted and DVD use copies have been provided. Use of the originals is restricted due to fragility and format.
- Walp, Lee
- The Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection is the collection of the late Russell Lee Walp (1906-2003), an avid book-collector and Professor of Botany at Marietta College (Marietta, Ohio). Mr Walp, along with his wife, Esther "Sparkie" Walp, collected materials related to the best in 20th century children's literature, with an emphasis on well-known illustrators and their illustrations. He corresponded with many illustrators and authors, whose letters, manuscripts, and original artwork may be found in the collection. Ed Emberley and Robert Andrew Parker are the most well-represented, but Roger Duvoisin, Hardie Gramatky, Robert Lawson, and Shimin Symeon, as well as scores of other luminaries in the world of children's literature are also represented. Included in the collection are notes, bibliographies, and catalogues documenting how Mr. Walp built and used his collection to educate the public are included, along with a small amount of material related to the study and teaching of botany.
- 37.00 Linear Feet (25 record center boxes, 6 oversize boxes, and 4 flat file drawers)
- Encoded finding aid prepared by Rebecca Bizonet, 2006.
- Scope and Content:
The Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection contains two types of materials: information about the Walps and their collecting, and information about the illustrators and authors. Material related to Mr. Walp's collecting may be found in the following series: Personal, Book Collecting, Walp Library Catalog Cards, and Articles, Exhibits, and Lectures by the Walps. Information about the illustrators and authors is concentrated in the series Illustrators and Authors and Art, and also in Articles and Clippings, Audiovisual, Posters, and Realia. The approximately 5,000 books in the Walp Collection include a complete set of first editions of the Caldecott Medal Books, and first editions of all but three Newbery Medal-winning books. These books are cataloged separately.
The Walp Collection has material by or about over 250 children's book illustrators and authors. The two most well-represented are Ed Emberley and Robert Andrew Parker. There is also a significant amount on Roger Duvoisin, Hardie Gramatky, Robert Lawson, and Symeon Shimin.
- Biographical / Historical:
Russell Lee Walp, known to friends and family as Lee Walp, was born October 23, 1906, in Youngstown, Pennsylvania.(1) His parents, Lee Henry Walp and Mary Solomon were from families that immigrated to the United States from the country around Birmingham, England, in order to work in the steel industry in Youngstown, Pennsylvania.(2)
Mr.Walp studied botany at the University of Michigan, receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in 1930, followed by a Master of Science degree in June, 1931. In 1998, he was presented with a certificate of appreciation from Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment for his outstanding contributions to his field. In 1935, Mr. Walp married Esther "Sparkie" (Spargo). She was born March 20, 1906, in Quincy, Massachusetts.(3) As a youth, she was involved in many athletics, excelling at basketball, track and field, and swimming and became the national javelin champion in 1924.(4) Mrs. Walp received her undergraduate degree in English from Boston College, and a graduate degree in physical education from Wellesley College.(5)
The Walps had two daughters, Esther Lee and Mary. Esther Lee worked in the Children's Department of Houghton Mifflin, and later became a children's librarian, while Mary chose the teaching profession. Esther Lee was the more active of the two daughters in helping her parents, especially her father, to build the collection.
Both Walps were on the faculty at Marietta College (Marietta, Ohio), Mr. Walp as a professor of botany, beginning in 1931, and Mrs. Walp as a teacher of physical education. She retired early to stay home and take care of her daughters.(6) Mr. Walp was the longest serving professor at the school, retiring in 1975 after 44 years.(7) His entire career was spent at Marietta College, the only break being when he received a Ford Foundation grant to pursue additional graduate studies at Stanford from 1950-1951.(8) As a professor, he taught advanced botany, microbiology, plants and world affairs, ecology, conservation, evening adult courses in science (BSCS: Biological Sciences Curriculum Study), and courses in children's literature.(9) He claims to have had the most students of any professor at the College, and many of them maintained contact with him throughout his life.
The Walps were both involved with Sea Pines Camp for Girls, located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Mrs. Walp began working there as a junior counselor in 1924, and continued working there every summer while she was in school. Mr. Walp became a staff naturalist there in 1935, and the couple were eventually married at the nearby Sea Pines Inn that same year. They ultimately purchased the camp and returned there every summer. The Cape Cod region is home to many of the illustrators and authors with whom they established friendships.
Lee and Sparkie Walp began collecting children's books in the 1940's, in order to provide good reading material for their two girls, combatting the "menace" of comic books.(10) Mr. Walp focused on collecting first editions, had a complete set of Caldecott Medal winners,(11) and sought to collect the best in children's book illustrations. While making the collection available for research, teaching, and exhibits, Mr. Walp wrote many articles on the topic of children's literature and gave numerous talks and lectures.
Esther "Sparkie" Walp passed away on February 6, 1999, after residing in a nursing home in Marietta for five years. Lee Walp continued to be active, and in 2001 he was featured in an issue of Sunrise Traditions, the quarterly newsletter of the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in Virginia where he had made his home the previous year. The article described him as active in events, taking up painting, full of stories, and still spending part of the summer at Cape Cod.(12) Mr. Walp passed away January 27, 2004.
1. Bemelmans' article, "About the Author" Illustrators and Authors-Bemelmans, Ludwig- Walp's Bio-bibliographical Research
2. "Russell Lee Walp" Personal-Family-Walp's Writings on his life
3. "Russell Lee Walp" Personal-Family-Walp's Writings on his life
4. "Scrapbook," Personal-family-Esther Spargo Walp
5. "Russell Lee Walp" Personal-Family-Walp's Writings on his life
6. "Thirty Years and Three Thousand Picture Books Later," OLA Bulletin, 1975
7. Marietta College website, http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/treetour
8. Bemelmans' article, "About the Author" Illustrators and Authors-Bemelmans, Ludwig- Walp's Bio-bibliographical Research
9. "Biography Notes" Personal-Family-Walp's Writings on his life
10. Mid-Ohio Exhibit of Children's Books Catalog, 1975
11. Bemelmans' article, "About the Author" Illustrators and Authors-Bemelmans, Ludwig- Walp's Bio-bibliographical Research
12. Sunrise Traditions, a quarterly newsletter of Sunrise Assisted Living, Fall 2001
- Acquisition Information:
- Gift of Lee Walp and family, 2002.
- Processing information:
Collection processed and finding aid created by Adriane Hanson.
Audiovisual materials have been reformatted and DVD use copies have been inserted in place of the original media. Access to original audiovisual material is restricted.
- Book Collecting
- Walp Library Catalog Cards
- Articles, Exhibits, and Lectures by the Walps
- Illustrators and Authors
- Articles and Clippings
- Separated Material:
The approximately 5,000 books in the Walp Collection include a complete set of first editions of the Caldecott Medal Books, and first editions of all but three Newbery Medal-winning books. These books are cataloged separately.
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
Children's literature -- Archives.
Children's literature -- Collectors and collecting.
Children -- Books and reading.
Illustrators -- Juvenile literature.
Illustration of books -- Juveniles literature.
Graphic arts -- Collectors and collecting.
Illustrated children's books.
Prints (visual works).
Walp, Esther Spargo.
Steffens, Esther Lee Walp.
Parker, Robert Andrew.
Duvoisin, Roger C., 1927-
Gramatky, Hardie, 1907-1979.
Lawson, Robert, 1892-1957.
Shimin, Symeon, 1902-
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research. Original audiovisual materials have been reformatted and DVD use copies have been provided. Use of the originals is restricted due to fragility and format.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Lee Walp Family Juvenile Book Collection, University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Research Center)