Virginia Lee Burton papers , ca. 1937-1962

Overview of the Collection

Burton, Virginia Lee, 1909-1968
Virginia Lee Burton papers
ca. 1937-1962 (inclusive)
11 linear feet, (9 containers)
Collection Number
Ax 839
Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) was an illustrator and author of children's books. The collection includes sketches and finished illustrations for the books Calico the Wonder Horse; Or the Saga of Stewy Slinker, CHOO CHOO, The Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away (both by Burton), The Emperor's New Clothes (written by Hans Christian Anderson) and others.
University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives
UO Libraries--SCUA
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR
Telephone: 5413463068
Access Restrictions

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Additional Reference Guides

See the Current Collection Guide for detailed description and requesting options.

Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Historical NoteReturn to Top

Virginia Lee Burton (1909-1968) wrote and illustrated many children's books, including The Little House, which was awarded the Caldecott medal in 1943.

She was born in Newton Centre, Massachusetts on August 30, 1909, and later studied art and ballet in California. Her drawings have appeared in the Boston Transcript, where she was a member of the staff for two years. She married George Demetrios, who had been her sculpture teacher, and they had two children. For many years they lived in Folly County, Gloucester, Massachusetts. She died in 1968.

The Virginia Lee Burton Papers are an important addition to the University of Oregon's Children's Collection because it demonstrates the stages of work involved in illustrating, from initial sketch to finished book. The numerous preparatory sketches, the reworking of illustrations that had not proven satisfactory, and the demands for quality reproduction of the artwork indicate the attention to detail required.

Content DescriptionReturn to Top

The Virginia Lee Burton Papers contain sketchbooks, preliminary sketches, and final illustrations for both first and second editions of Calico, the Wonder Horse, or the Saga of Stewy Slinker (written by Burton) and The Fast Sooner Hound (written by Arna Bontemps and Jack Conroy).

Also included are final illustrations for the books CHOO CHOO, The Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away, Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, and The Emperor's New Clothes (written by Hans Christian Anderson). Proofs for the book Life Story are also included.

Administrative InformationReturn to Top

Detailed Description of the CollectionReturn to Top

Names and SubjectsReturn to Top

Subject Terms

  • Children's literature, American--Illustrations
  • Illustrated children's books--United States
  • Illustration of books--United States--20th century
  • Women illustrators--United States
  • Young adult literature, American--Authorship

Personal Names

  • Andersen, H. C. (Hans Christian), 1805-1875
  • Burton, Virginia Lee, 1909-1968

Form or Genre Terms

  • Book illustrations