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Virginia Lee Burton papers

Identifier: Ax 839

Scope and Contents note

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.


  • ca. 1937-1962


Conditions Governing Access note

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.

Conditions Governing Use note

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical/Historical note

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.


11 linear feet (9 containers)

Language of Materials



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.

Arrangement note

Collection is organized into the following series:

Series I: Calico The Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker (1st edition) Series II: Calico The Wonder Horse; Or The Saga of Stewy Slinker (2nd edition) Series III: CHOO CHOO, the Story of the Little Engine Who Ran Away Series IV: The Emperor's New Clothes Series V: The Fast Sooner Hound Series VI: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel Series VII: Life Story Series VIII: Folly Cove Relief Prints

Immediate Source of Acquisition note

Gift of Virginia Lee Burton in 1978.

Processing Information note

Collection processed by processing staff, April 1978. Collection was reprocessed by Alexa Goff, 2016.

Guide to the Virginia Lee Burton Papers
Complete Description
Processing staff. Finding aid updated by Alexa Goff and Rachel Lilley.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English.
Funding for encoding this finding aid was provided through a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA