Thursday, September 5 – Sunday, December 22, 2013
No form of literature is so deeply entrenched in people’s minds as the simple verses sung or recited to them in early childhood. Every culture has a body of rhyme or song with which it entertains its young. Most nursery rhymes, like “Simple Simon” and “Jack and Jill,” are of folk origin. These go back many centuries and have been preserved and transmitted orally before being first printed in the 18th century. Others, such as “Twinkle, twinkle, little star” and “Mary had a little lamb,” are more recent and were composed by known authors.
The Karpeles Manuscript Library contains an outstanding collection of material on early and late nursery rhymes. The most famous published collection of nursery rhymes, and the one that established the texts by which they are currently known, is that edited by Andrew Lang, The Nursery Rhyme Book (1897), illustrated by Leonard Leslie Brooks (1862-1943). These illustrations have become the classic images associated with the verses, and the exhibition at the Karpeles Museum will present a wide selection of them, including the ones for “Humpty Dumpty,” “Jack and Jill,” “Little Bo Peep,” “Three Wise Men of Gotham,” and many others.
The folk tales enshrined in children’s verses have played an important part in popular culture and been published in various forms in English since the 17th century. Credited with initiating the literary publication of folk tales as a literary form is Charles Perrault (1628-1703), whose French collection translated Tales of Mother Goose first appeared in 1695. The exhibition at the Karpeles Museum will include manuscript pages from Perrault’s work, as well as items from the original manuscript of the novel Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott, of Little Women fame.
The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum is located at 94 Broadway, across from City Hall, in the City of Newburgh. The Karpeles Museums are a national chain with twelve in the U.S., specializing in the preservation and display of original, historically significant documents and manuscripts. Museum Hours: Thursday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday, 12 to 4 p.m.