Jacob Abbott was an ordained minister, professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at Amherst, founder of a girl's school, and author of a long list of children's books. He treated children's books as a means of educating children gently, and of raising them to hold Christian values. He authored two of the earliest girl's literature series, the Lucy Books and the Franconia series. The Lucy books are a spin-off of his first series, the Rollo books (for boys). The Franconia series deals with the lives of numerous children. Many books by Abbott can be found in Duke Library's online catalog.
In the words of one reader of Abbott's Lucy series:
"I was discovered one Sunday afternoon reading Godey's Lady's Book which, although extremely mild and harmless, was thought in those days a little grown-up for a person of four and a half. The next day I was taken into town and made the proud owner of a copy of Jacob Abbott's Lucy's Conversations, my first bound book? Was there ever a more delightful journey than that which Lucy was invited to make to the seashore ?How grand it was for the little girls to travel in a carriage, to have tea by themselves in Lady Jane's sister's library, waited on by a black serving man, and to look at drawers of curiosities, shells and minerals, and a picture in mosaic of a burning mountain, by way of entertainment!" Caroline M. Hewins, A Mid-Century Child and Her Books, Macmillan, 1926.
Rebecca Clarke (Sophie May) was born in 1833. Her earliest literary successes came from the Little Prudy series and subsequent spin-offs (Flaxie Frizzle, Dotty Dimple, Little Prudy's Children, and Little Prudy's Flyaways). Targeted at younger readers, these series relate the adventures of several young children. Title characters are generally connected across series. Each series is limited to six volumes. Books are listed under both "Sophie May" and "Rebecca Clarke" within the Duke Libraries Online Catalog. Little Prudy, Dotty Dimple and Flaxie Frizzle series are all available, in addition to other non-series titles.
Much like Sophie May and Julia Mathews, Margaret Hosmer (1830-1897) wrote episodic fiction targeted at young girls. Other, non-serial titles by the same author include Under the Holly: A Book for Girls, written under the pseudonym " a pair of hands." Several Little Rosie titles are available at the Rubenstein Library, all published in Philadelphia by Porter & Coates around 1869.
The Golden Ladder Series deals with the lives of impoverished girls, their family relationships, and their connections to Christianity. The Rubenstein Library currently has three of the six volumes in this series, all written by Julia A. Mathews.
Martha Finley penned one of the most popular 19th century girls' series, in which her young heroine Elsie Dinsmore grew up, had children, and passed on the role of protagonist to her daughter. Elsie's faith plays a large role in her life, giving the author an opportunity to express Christian values and ethics. Perkins Library has additional titles in these series.
This section is representative, but not an exhaustive listing of all the prescriptive literature available in the Special Collections Library. A separate bibliography is available on this subject, or, for a more comprehensive listing, search the online catalog for the subject heading "prescriptive literature."