Exhibt: Eleanor Burts Collection

Books from the Eleanor Burts Collection
Books from the Eleanor Burts Collection


Imagine that you are browsing through a booksellers shop. You suddenly see a tiny book about 2 inches by 3 inches. You open it to its title page. The title is A Description of Various Objects published in Philadelphia in 1803. You look further and find another small book about 3 inches by 4 inches. A Visit to The Bazaar is the title on the cover. Inside you find that it was published in 1818 and chronicles the visit of a family with four children to the shops in London. It even has illustrations some of which are hand colored. Even if you are not a bibliophile, wouldn’t you find it hard to resist purchasing these wonderful treasures of times past?

Eleanor Burts could not pass up these treasures and hundreds more that are part of her collection housed in the Louise Pettus Archives and Special Collections at Winthrop University. These two items and dozens more are part of the latest Archives exhibit.

Eleanor Burts was a teacher who had a life-long fascination with children’s literature and anything associated with it. The Pettus Archives is fortunate to be the beneficiary of Miss Burt’s untiring interest. In 1980, Miss Burts sent the first shipment of her wonderful collection gather over a lifetime of passionate collecting. Over the next 18 years, she traveled widely collecting even more as she went, by the end of the 1990s, she had given Winthrop over 800 books and numerous other items pertaining to children’s books.

Eleanor Burts [1916-1998] attended kindergarten at Winthrop Training School and later was a 1937 graduate of Winthrop earning a degree in English with a minor in French. She taught in the Parker School District in Greenville, S.C. after graduation. In 1941, she earned a master’s degree in teacher education from Columbia Teachers College in New York. She accepted a teaching job that same year in Hawaii where she witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese on December 7. Miss Burts had other teaching positions but finally settled in Bronxville, N.Y. She later moved to a retirement home in North Carolina where she died on September 18, 1998.

The exhibit contains many examples of items gathered over a lifetime of travel and collecting. There are miniature books, chapbooks (forerunners of today’s comic books), horn books, dolls, games, figurines, textiles, drawings, note cards, and much more.

The exhibition runs until August 2, 2012 and can be viewed from 8:00 to 5:30 Monday through Thursday and 8:00 to noon on Friday.

For further information on the Burts collection or any of the Archives holdings, please call (803) 323-2334 or e-mail at archives@winthrop. edu.

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