Donated by Berthe Amoss between May 7, 1968 and March 31, 1985.
Noncirculating; available for research.
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.
Amoss was born September 26, 1925 in New Orleans, where she soaked up that city's unique historical atmosphere. She took a Bachelor of Arts degree while at Tulane University; studied art for five years at the University of Hawaii; at Kunstschule, Bremen, Germany; and the Academie des Beaux Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. With her six children (Jim, Bob, Billy, Mark, Tom and John), she accompanied her husband, Walter J. Amoss, Jr., on his various job assignments as an executive vice-president for Lykes Brothers Steamship Company. Her travels permitted her to study in Europe's art schools while exposing her to a variety of children's literature from a number of cultures. On her own, Amoss wrote and illustrated several books for young children, including It's Not Your Birthday (Harper & Row, 1966), Tom in the Middle (Harper & Row, 1968), By the Sea (Parents' Magazine Press, 1969), Old Hasdrubal and the Pirates (Parents' Magazine Press, 1971), and The Big Cry (Harper & Row, 1972).
Interviewed about her views on writing for children, Amoss insisted that a picture book depends half on its illustrations, "maybe completely." A children's book should also avoid instructing or teaching a moral. Instead, it should delight a child and expand his world. She credits any talent she might have developed to extensive exposure to art and children's books worldwide. However, her best training came from reading children's books: old, new, good, bad, for 3-year olds, teens and all ages, even books about children's books. Amoss said that she practiced writing for all ages and tried all sorts of stories, and thus learned what did not work as well as what did. Then, her fourth son's tenth birthday provided her with her first children's story. Four-year-old Tom received no presents and could not understand why it was not his birthday. Amoss wrote her first children's book, It's Not Your Birthday, from this episode.
The papers of Berthe Amoss include typescripts, galleys, and original illustrations as well as several miscellaneous illustrations and articles unconnected in any specific way with the ten publications included in this collection. The ten books in this collection appeal to the full range of children's age groups, from the very young to teens.
Of the first group, those books intended for small children, the materials for By The Sea (Parents' Magazine Press, 1969) best illustrate Amoss' conviction that a children's book should contain minimal text. The original illustrations and color separations for this title propel the book's story and preclude any need for narrative, thus By The Sea perfectly suits those children who are not yet of reading age but can follow a simple story. Other titles in this collection that follow a similar pattern are The Great Sea Monster (Parents' Magazine Press, 1975), It's Not Your Birthday (Harper and Row, 1966), Tom In The Middle (Harper and Row, 1968), and The Very Worst Thing (Parents' Press Magazine, 1972).
For the more experienced child, Amoss' prepared Old Hasdrubal And The Pirates (Parents' Press Magazine, 1971) and The Witch Cat (Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, 1977). Both of these titles deal with elements of Louisiana or New Orleans history: the first about the pirate Jean Lafitte's participation in the Battle of New Orleans, the second about All Hallow's Eve in New Orleans. The collection contains only one original color separation for The Witch Cat, but holds nearly all of the full color illustrations and photo-ready text as well as the book jacket for Old Hasdrubal And The Pirates. Both of these titles follow her earlier works intended for younger children and reflect Amoss' efforts to exercise her talents in a slightly different direction: toward an older audience.
Meant for older children still are Secret Lives (Little, Brown and Co., 1979) and The Chalk Cross (Seabury Press, 1976). Both of these titles are meant for young teenagers. Amoss published these books in the mid- and late-seventies and both contain little illustration, relying instead on a mix of fantasy and romance to propel the reader through the story. Consequently, the collection contains only the original typescripts and galleys for these two titles, yet the materials indicate Amoss' growing ability and reflect her desire to reach all ages (as previously mentioned in this register's Biographical Sketch).
Besides one color separation that Amoss provided for Joan L. Nixon's The Mysterious Prowler (Harcourt, Brave Jovanovich, 1976), the collection holds various early illustrations and cut-outs, a page of unidentified manuscript, Christmas cards Amoss designed, an unpublished item that includes two pages of typescript and five pages of illustration. This last was apparently part of a presentation Amoss delivered to a group of aspiring children's authors and illustrators.
BY THE SEA written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York:Parents' Magazine Press, 1969). 1/1-1/2 Original Illustrations and color separations, 1/1 pgs. 2-3 (front end pages), pg. 6 (color separation opposite title page), pg. 7 (title page), pgs. 13-25 (color separations, 2 pieces each), pg. 26 (original illustration and color separation), pgs. 27-32 (color separations, 2 pieces each); 1/2 pgs. 33-47 (color separations, 2 pieces each), pg. 13 (finished watercolor illustration), pgs. 31-32, 40 (finished prints). THE CHALK CROSS written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Seabury Press, 1976). 1/3 - 1/4 Typescript, 1/3 Copyright page, dedication, pgs. 1-78; 1/4 pgs. 79-155; 1/5 - 1/6 Galley, 1/5 Title page, copyright page, pgs. 1-44; 1/6 pgs. 45-101, pronunciation of names, print illustration of cover. THE GREAT SEA MONSTER written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Parents' Magazine Press, 1975). 1/7 Original illustration in watercolor, pg. 11. IT'S NOT YOUR BIRTHDAY written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss(New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1966). 1/8 Author's notes and sketches (4 items), letter from "Barbara" to Berthe Amoss, 27 May 1966; 1/9 Miscellaneous sketches (title page, dedication page), dummy (6 pages), pencil drawings (11 items; jacket illustration, title page, pgs. 5, 6 & 14, pg. 7, pg. 9, pg. 10, pg. 13, pg. 16, pg. 20), book jacket specifications, mechanics (9 items; jacket, 3 pieces; pg. 6, pg. 9, pg. 13, pg. 16, pg. 20 and 22), zerox of pg. 19 with Amoss' note to "Barbara;" THE MYSTERIOUS PROWLER by Joan L. Nixon, illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1976). 2/1 Color separation, inside front flap typeset. OLD HASDRUBAL AND THE PIRATES written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Parents' Press Magazine, 1971). 2/2 Full Color illustrations and photoready text, Copyright page, pgs. 4-5, pgs. 6-7, pg. 8 (no text), pg. 9 (text only), pg. 10, pg. 11 (text only), 12-15, pg. 17, 18-19, 22 (text only), pgs. 24, 25 (text only), 28, 30, 31, 32, 33 (text only), 34, (text only), 35, 36, 37, 39; Book jacket. SECRET LIVES written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1979). 2/3 Typescript (original), Chapters 1-23, 194 pages, bears marks of editor (pencil) and typesetter (blue ink); 2/4 - 2/5 Galleys, 2/4 Author's copy, chapters 1-12, pgs. 1-50, bears marks of typesetter (green) and copy editor; (red). 2/5 Author's copy, chapters 13-24, pgs. 51-93. TOM IN THE MIDDLE written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Harper and Row, 1968). 3/1 Color separations with typeset text, Title page (3 pieces), pg. 4 (3 pieces), pg. 23 (3 pieces), pgs. 26-27 (3 pieces). THE VERY WORST THING written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New York: Parents' Press Magazine, 1972). 3/2 Full color illustrations, Book jacket, title page, pgs. 4-7, pgs. 10- 11, pgs. 12-15, 18-21, 23-34, pgs. 37-38, (most with typeset text). THE WITCH CAT written and illustrated by Berthe Amoss (New Orleans: Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, 1977). 3/3 Color separation (3 pieces with text), pg. 5.
3/4 Early Work, Susan Carr (managing editor, Department of Books for Boys and Girls, Harper and Row, Publishers) to Mary Cable (Horizon Magazine) 17 September 1964; dummy of Lisa and the Lantern by Berthe Amoss; miscellaneous page of manuscript; envelope of cut-outs of Parissiene dress-styles (Berthe Amoss 1938); miscellaneous sketch; miscellaneous ink sketch; unidentified watercolor.
3/4 Two miscellaneous unidentified ink sketches; unidentified watercolor; miscellaneous color illustration; two Christmas cards on matboard, finished Christmas cards.
3/4 Article about Amoss (John Demers, "Spinning a Special Yarn: The Magic of Berthe Amoss," Tulanian 53 (Fall 1982): 20-23); Article by Amoss ("A New Focus for Old Favorites," New Orleans Times-Picayune, 25 October 1985.
3/4 Miscellaneous poster entitled "The Loup Garou by Berthe Amoss."
3/5 "The Mystery of the Speckled Egg," two pages typescript, five pages of illustration.
Processed: January 19, 1995
Revised: June 2001; September 2014
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