Skip to main content

Ruth M. Baldwin Papers

Identifier: Ms Coll. 080

Scope and Content

The manuscript collection consists of articles, correspondence (including that of booksellers, family, and personal), lists of children's books, records of book sales, invoices, memoirs, materials related to the Baldwin Library (as articles and history), photographs, records of visitors to the Baldwin Library, diaries, copies of Ruth Baldwin's Masters and PhD. Theses, a draft of an unpublished book, diplomas, and other miscellaneous items and ephemera. The invoices provide a documentation of the names of booksellers, the types of books, and the prices. The diaries and the correspondence give some insights and information about Ruth Baldwin. Also included in the collection is a large archival folder with a drawing (pen and ink and watercolor) of a graphic of the letter D such as would have appeared in an alphabet book.


  • Creation: 1938-1990



University Archives collections are available for research. Portions of the collections may be restricted due to the requirements of applicable state and federal laws, including but not limited to FERPA and HIPAA, and in accordance with best practices as defined by the Society of American Archivists.

Biographical/Historical Note

Ruth Marie Baldwin was born on September 29, 1918 in Due West, South Carolina. She received a Bachelor of Arts from Muskingum College in 1939, a Master of Arts in Library Science from the University of Illinois in 1945, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Library Science from the Graduate College of the University of Illinois in 1955. After receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree she worked as a librarian at Huron College in Huron, South Dakota for two years, and as the county Librarian for Meigs County and Gallia County from 1942 to 1944. After receiving her Master's degree in 1945 she taught at the Library School at San Jose State College for three years. She then returned to the University of Illinois to work on her doctorate but then left after one year and from 1950 to 1953 she taught at the library school of the University of Southern California and then from 1953 to 1955 completed her doctorate at the University of Illinois.

The year 1953 was a fateful one for Ruth Baldwin as it marked the start of what was to become a lifelong quest and vocation of collecting children's books. Her parents who were staying in England visited a bookstore and the owner happened to show her parents some chapbooks. Her father, who was a noted Shakespearean scholar and English professor, had no interest in them but Ruth's mother bought and sent them to her daughter. Apparently Ruth Baldwin was delighted with them and for the next year her mother sent over 300 chapbooks and other 19th century children's books to her daughter. Over the years the collection grew through Ruth's efforts and those of her immediate family. She established a network of booksellers and purchased books as often as possible. One of the ways in which Ruth Baldwin managed to garner funding for her book purchases was to sell duplicates of the books. By the time she retired after teaching at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge from 1956-1977 she had accumulated over 35,000 volumes.

Prior to her retirement she began to consider a more permanent home for her very sizeable collection. A delegation from the University of Florida visited Ruth Baldwin as a result of Dr. Joy Anderson (an English professor at the University of Florida) having seen the collection at Ruth's home in Baton Rouge. The outcome was that Ruth Baldwin and her collection - the Ruth Baldwin Library - came to the University of Florida and the library opened in the year 1977 with Ruth as curator. From 1977 until her death Ruth Baldwin continued to nurture and add to the collection that now numbers over 90,000 volumes.


8.5 Linear feet (15 boxes)

Language of Materials



Articles, correspondence, manuscripts for books and articles, and records of purchases for Ruth Baldwin's children's book collection.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Related Material

The product of Ruth Baldwin's 40-year collection development efforts, the Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Florida's George A. Smathers Libraries contains more than 93,000 volumes published in Great Britain and the United States from the early 1700s through the 1990s.


A Guide to the Ruth M. Baldwin Papers
Finding aid prepared by Joyce Dewsbury
March 2005
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America