From the Archives: Children’s Science Series

We’ve been publishing books since 1919, which means we have one heck of an archive. Every Friday we highlight one of our more unusual, beautiful, or hilarious titles unearthed from the storage bins.

I think my favorite archive find so far has been rediscovering this series from the 1930s and 40s in our bins. This collection has dozens of titles, all of them pocket-sized hardcovers with gorgeous, unique jackets. It was all I could do to keep from photographing every last one.

These books were a Works Progress Administration (WPA) endeavor from the Great Depression. The Pennsylvania Writers’ Project, an offshoot of the Federal Writer’s Project, provided work for writers, editors, and consultants in the production of these books for Albert Whitman & Company. The Children’s Science Series consisted of nearly forty books about nature and technology, with titles like Aircraft, Warships, The Book of Stones, The Romance of Rubber, and Life in an Ant Hill.

They originally sold for fifty cents each (note stamp with price increase). A small price to pay for optimism, don’t you think?

The Bienes Museum of the Modern Book at the Broward County Library in Florida has a collection of these books along with other WPA children’s books. You can read more about them here and even view digital images of the entire collection. Browse away, and have a great weekend!

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From the Archives: Children’s Science Series