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Armstrong Sperry Papers

Summary Information
Title: Armstrong Sperry Papers
Dates: 1940-1967
Creator: Sperry, Armstrong
Extent: 1 linear ft.--written .5 cubic ft.--illustrative
Location: See Detailed Descriptions for Each Title Item for Box Locations
Language: English
Collection Number: CLRC-1875
Armstrong Sperry's papers focus on his work as an author and illustrator of children's and young adult fiction and non-fiction. The collection includes typescripts, some corrected, correspondence, front matter corrected and galley proofs. Illustrative materials include dummies, illustrations, studies and sketches in various media.

Repository: University of Minnesota Libraries Children's Literature Research Collections

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

Part of this collection was originally donated to Dr. Irvin Kerlan, who in turn donated it to the University of Minnesota. During the 1970s, Mr. Sperry donated additional materials.


Materials are arranged by title.

Biographical Sketch

Armstrong W. Sperry was born November 7, 1897, in New Haven, Connecticut, and died April 28, 1978, in Hanover, New Hampshire. He was educated at the Yale School of Fine Arts, continuing his education in New York City and Paris. He served in the U.S. Navy in 1917. His naval experience, plus his experiences as an ethnologist in the 1920s in the French-controlled islands of the South Pacific, led to a life-long interest in the sea-faring history and legends of that region, and shaped his literary work. He began his artistic career as an illustrator, and shifted to writing stories for children as well, although he continued to illustrated the works of others throughout his long career. He published his first work in 1932, and in 1940 published Call It Courage , which won the 1941 Newbery Award. Most of Sperry's books for children and young adults feature themes of adventure. He also wrote war stories set during World War II. While some of his work may appear overly-sentimental or dated in its depictions of various ethnic groups and historical figures, his works, for the dates of their publication, were quite sympathetic and introduced many young readers to an area unfamiliar to them--the South Pacific.

Biographical Sources: Something About the Author , vols. 1, 27

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection contains both illustrations (ink, tempera, and pencil) and correspondence, front matter, corrected galley proofs, typescripts, some corrected, for ten titles, two of them unpublished. Many of the items are inscribed for Irvin Kerlan.

Subject Terms
Indexing Terms
  • The collection is indexed under the following headings in the catalog of the University of Minnesota Libraries. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons or places should search the catalog using these headings.
  • Sperry, Armstrong, 1897-1976
Collection Contents
 Location  Title
Cacao, the Chocolate Tree  
Box MC385
pencil and tempera dummy with typescript (40 p.)  Box MC385
Call It Courage 1940 
Note  New York: Macmillan, 1940
Box MC385
ink illustration inscribed for Irvin Kerlan (1 p.)  Box MC385
Great River, Wide Land 1967 
Note New York: Macmillan, 1967
Box MC385
ink study (sketch) (1 p.)  Box MC385
Box MF726 folders 5-9
typescript, corrected (225 p.)  Box MF726 folders 5-9
Box MF726 folder 9
correspondence (1 p.)  Box MF726 folder 9
Box MF727 folder 10
galley proof, corrected (88 p.)  Box MF727 folder 10
galley proof, corrected (87 p.)  Box MF727 folder 10
On Writing for Young People  
Box MF727 folder 12
typescript (15 p.)  Box MF727 folder 12
Pacific Islands Speaking 1955 
Note  New York: Macmillan, 1955
Box MC385
tempera and water jacket illustration inscribed for Irvin Kerelan (1 p.)  Box MC385
ink illustrations (5 p.)  Box MC385
Secret on the Congo 1955 
Note  Boston: Ginn, 1955
Box MC804a
tempera study (1 p.)  Box MC804a
South of Cape Horn 1958 
Note  Philadelphia: J.C. Winston Co., 1958
Box MF726 folder 1
front matter (9 p.)  Box MF726 folder 1
Box MF726 folders 1-4
typescript, corrected (188 p.)  Box MF726 folders 1-4
Story of Hiawatha, The 1951 
Note New York: Random House, 1951
Box MC385
tempera jacket study (1 p.)  Box MC385
tempera and pencil dummy with text proof paste-up (72 p.)  Box MC385
Thunder Country 1952 
Note New York: Macmillan, 1952
Box MC804a
ink illustration inscribed for Irvin Kerlan (1 p.)  Box MC804a
Voyages of Christopher Columbus, The 1950 
Note New York: Random House, 1950
Box MC804a
tempera jacket illustration (1 p.)  Box MC804a
Box MF727 folders 13-15
typescript, corrected, inscribed for Irvin Kerlan (147 p.)  Box MF727 folders 13-15