de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
The University of Southern Mississippi

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Creator: Ruth Krauss
Title: DG0569
Dates: 1960-1966
Quantity: 0.30 cubic feet (1 box)
Identification: DG0569

Abstract: The Ruth Krauss Papers contain a typescript for the book, Open House for Butterflies (1960). Krauss was best known for writing picture books that presented the authentic language and viewpoints of children.

Biographical Note

Ruth Krauss was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on July 25, 1901, to Julius and Blanche (Rosenfeld) Krauss. She constantly read, wrote, and drew as a child, and was allowed to quit school after the eighth grade to study art and the violin. Krauss eventually earned a B.A. degree from the Parsons School of Fine and Applied Art in New York City and casually studied anthropology at Columbia University. She married David Johnson Leisk, who wrote and illustrated children's books under the pseudonym Crockett Johnson, in 1941.

Krauss published her first children's book, A Good Man and his Good Wife, in 1944 and produced her second work, The Carrot Seed, which her husband illustrated, the following year. She commenced her collaboration with illustrator Maurice Sendak with A Hole is to Dig: A First Book of First Definitions (1952). By presenting children's amusing definitions of things they do not understand, Krauss became one of the first authors to observe and use the language of young children. The book was celebrated by critics at its publication and has been described as "ground-breaking." Similarly, her most popular works have been picture books "that present a simple, undeniable truth as seen from a child's perspective." Krauss and Sendak produced seven more titles between 1953 and 1960.

Ruth Krauss also wrote adult poetry and poem-plays for the theater. Her later children's books exhibited her poetic talents more than her earlier works and were not as well received. She died in Westport, Connecticut, on July 10, 1993.

Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series (Detroit: Gale Group, 2000), 83:254-256.
Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, ed. Laurie Collier and Joyce Nakamura (Detroit: Gale Research, 1993), 4:1364-1366.

Scope and Content Note

The Ruth Krauss Papers contain a typescript and a letter sent created by Ruth Krauss between 1960 and 1966. Krauss' papers were created from her composition of the book, Open House for Butterflies (1960). The material is organized into two series: book and letter sent.

The book series consists of a carbon copy of the text of Open House for Butterflies arranged by size of typeface. In the published book, lines of text were printed in small, medium, and big type, or in combinations of the three. When making the typescript from which the printer would prepare the galley, Krauss grouped lines of text together depending on the size of their typeface. She also added some handwritten notes for the printer. The use of different typefaces was intended to allow Krauss and Sendak to "play" with the text of the book.

The letter sent to Lena de Grummond in May 1966 documented the donation of the typescript and described its creation as explained above. The letter was selected and photocopied from the correspondence file of the de Grummond Collection because it provides information on the book's production.

Series and Subseries

A. Book (1960)

Open House for Butterflies (1960)

B. Letter Sent (1966)


Restrictions on Use

Noncirculating; available for research.

Copyright Restrictions

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials, other than that noted above.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

(Identify the item and cite the series), Ruth Krauss Papers, de Grummond Children's Literature Collection, University of Southern Mississippi Libraries.


These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries by Ruth Krauss in May 1966.

Processing Information

Processed by Hans Rasmussen, March 2002. Encoded into EAD Version 1.0 by Danielle L. Bishop. This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Container Listing




Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Maurice Sendak (New York: Harper & Row, 1960)
1/1Carbon copy of text arranged by size of typeface, edited, (7 pp.)
Letter Sent
1/2Letter sent to Lena de Grummond, May 1966, (1 item)





The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection

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