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Finding Aid for the Olive Percival papers, ca. 1869-1948
119  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Material

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Olive Percival Papers,
    Date (inclusive): ca. 1869-1948
    Collection number: 119
    Creator: Percival, Olive, 1869-1945
    Extent: 44 boxes (22 linear ft.) 1 oversize box
    Repository: University of California, Los Angeles. Library. Department of Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90095-1575
    Abstract: Olive May Graves Percival (1869-1945) was an avid collector of books, hats, dolls, daguerreotypes, silver, textiles, quilts, fans, bookplates, Lalique, and Oriental art. The collection consists of correspondence, photographs, negatives, scrapbooks, guest books, typescripts of articles and poems, bookmarks, bookplates, and material relating to Percival's collection of children's books.
    Physical location: Stored off-site at SRLF. Advance notice is required for access to the collection. Please contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information

    Restrictions on Use and Reproduction

    Property rights to the physical object belong to the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.

    Restrictions on Access

    COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE AT SRLF: Open for research. Advance notice required for access. Contact the UCLA Library, Department of Special Collections Reference Desk for paging information.

    Provenance/Source of Acquisition

    Olive Percival left her collections to various friends and her will benefited several institutions at the time of her death. The remainder of her estate was sold at an auction in 1946. Additional Percival materials at UCLA include the Olive Percival Collection of Children's Books in the Department of Special Collections (purchased from Ernest Dawson) and Percival's volumes of 17th and 18th century literature in the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library.
    • Gift of Florence Moore Kreider, 1949-50.
    • Gift of Jane Wright, 1949-50.
    • Gift of Theresa Levy, 1949.
    • Gift of Hortense Goldwater, 1949.
    • Gift of Mrs. Kirby, 1949.
    • Gift of Pauline Curran, 1949.
    • Gift of Marjorie Van Deusen, 1950.
    • Gift of Mrs. Morris Cohn, 1949 & 1954.
    • Gift of Mrs. Henry B. Pflueger, 1950.
    • Gift of Ward Ritchie, 1950 & 1959.
    • Gift of Dawson's Book Shop, 1983.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Olive Percival Papers (Collection 119). Department of Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles.

    Biography

    Olive May Graves Percival was born July 1, 1869, near Sheffield, Illinois; moved to Los Angeles, California, with her mother and sisters, 1887; worked as an insurance clerk in Los Angeles; an avid collector, Percival amassed ten thousand books as well as other collections of hats, dolls, daguerreotypes, silver, textiles, quilts, fans, bookplates, Lalique, and Oriental art; her cottage home was situated along the Arroyo Seco east of Los Angeles; died February 19, 1945.

    Scope and Content

    Collection consists of correspondence, photographs, negatives, scrapbooks, guest books, typescripts of articles and poems, bookmarks, and bookplates of Los Angeles author and bibliophile Olive Percival. Also includes material relating to Percival's collection of children's books. Includes a microfilm copy (17 reels) of her diaries and a typescript, held at The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

    Expanded Scope and Content

    This index is the result of an exploratory examination of Olive Percival Collection of Children's Books, acquired by purchase for the University of California at Los Angeles Library in August 1946. This is the first inventory taken of the collection, preparatory to its normal processing routine.
    The collection represents the personal hobby of Miss Olive Percival, first woman real estate agent of Los Angeles, and reflects her personality as revealing as a private diary. The intense love which she bestowed on these nostalgic mementos of her own childhood days, is evident from the notations penciled in many of the books, and in the artistic protective covers and book marks which she made for them.
    Consisting of 527 titles and a total of 540 items, the collection spans two centuries of children's literature, from the earliest publication, Politeuphuia wits common-wealth (1707) to the 1914 edition of Walter Crane's Sleeping Beauty and Blue Beard. The main strength of the collection concentrates on the approximate period from 1790-1840, and the majority of titles are of British publication. (The exact date of initial acquisition of these books cannot be exactly determined, but it is evident that Miss Percival did not add any books after 1931).
    Some of the books had strong association value for Miss Percival. We find some of her own school books, and various volumes presented to her by members of her immediate family and friends, which, though of no great intrinsic value, must have been of great sentimental value to her.
    (In the absence of corroboration, it is difficult to determine what standards, if any, Miss Percival set for herself). An examination of the titles listed in Darton's chapter on children's books in the Cambridge History of English Literature will reveal that most of those titles are present in the collection, and therefore constitutes a valuable core, about which an ever-expanding supplementation can be made. Represented in her library are the works of most of the notable writers for children in the period covered. The works of Bodlsmith, Watts, More, Sherwood, Turner, Trimmer, Barbauld, Edgeworth, Dorset, the Taylors, Lamb, Cameron, Hughes, Howitt, Abbott and William T. Adams (Oliver Optic), and Peter Parley, are included.
    There are notable absences in the gathering of the great. There are no works by Lewis Carroll, Walter Scott, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Kingsley, Andrew Lang, Robert Louis Stevenson, or Priscilla Wakefield. Though Thomas and John Bewick add to the rarity of the collection, there is only one volume illustrated by Randolph Caldecott, and not by Kate Greenaway.
    The content of the collection may be divided into several types of children's books. The moralistic and didactic literature of the 1790s to 1840s dominates the collection, as even a glance at the titles will indicate. Apart from this general group, but not entirely escaping its tone, is the vast amount of poetry. In a strict sense, this must be regarded as verse, and doggerel verse for the most part, since few poets of the period deigned to prostitute the Muse for an audience of mere children. It is evident that poetry must have been one of Miss Percival's main interests. Miss Miriam Fine has prepared a descriptive bibliography of those books devoted in their entirety to poetry, but there are many others which include selections of both prose and verse. This interest in poetry carries over into the religious hymns and songs, represented by Isaac Watts, Philip Doddridge and the New England primers. In the third group must be placed the numerous alphabet books, readers, and school books which represent the nostalgic interest of Miss Percival in her own school days.
    Chapbooks, those ephemeral, quickly-produced and eagerly sought after little pamphlets, are present in a large proportion to the total collection. Some of them served to keep alive the imaginative delight of children in the wonderful and fanciful, in a period of dominating moral didacticism. They did not escape entirely; too many perverted the story of adventure and fairyland to a moral purpose.
    Since so much of the literature represented in the Percival collection is of an anonymous or pseudonymous nature, I have prepared an author and title index, in the hope that it may be of use to future research workers. Annotations will be found under the author entry. Several books which were included in the lot, because of their small size or for some other undiscovered reason, have been found to be unsuitable for a collection of children's literature, and have been placed in an appendix.
    Holdings described in either Cumuchian or Rosenbach are referred to by their catalogue number (either G or R) in the annotations. There these holdings have been fully described in either catalogue, no attempt has been made to duplicate the descriptions. Rather, an effort has been made to supplement or corroborate them. In several cases, items in the collection have been brought to light inaccuracies in Gumuchian, especially in regard to first editions. The annotations for these items are devoted mainly to describing similarities or differences in format. Many books need little or no annotation; their title supply enough information as to content. Relevant quotations by Miss Percival have been included.
    At the top right hand corner of each sheet has been placed a dating symbol, consisting of the first three letters of the author's surname, the date of publication, and an A if the book was published in the United States. By rearranging the sheets, a chronological listing of the items is possible. I admit the effectiveness of this device is hampered by the lack of dates for many of the items, especially the elusive chapbooks.
    In exploring the collection, one distinct problem presented itself. Should a complete and thorough bibliographic job be done on only a few items, or should the whole collection be inventoried completely? Time was a governing factor in the decision. Knowing how eager the library staff was to have this inventory taken, so that the books could become available for research, I determined to finish the entire inventory, and to try to complete as much bibliographical identification as possible. For this identification, much detective work was done in the bibliographical tools of the library, and in the works listed at the end of this preface. Since there has never been any definitive bibliography of children's literature, the information had to be gleaned from diverse sources, and it is obvious that there are other sources still untapped. So I cannot claim completeness of identification for this inventory.
    In conclusion, I should like to reiterate that I believe the strength of this collection consists in the inclusion of the principal writers of an important period in the development of a literature for children. Although the very rare books included are relatively small in number, they will serve to correct existing inaccuracies concerning first editions. The entire collection would be extremely difficult to assemble piecemeal from the rare book market of today.
    I would recommend that the small collection of children's books in the possession of the William Andrews Clark Library, as yet unaccessioned, should be added to the Olive Percival collection, if this is administratively possible. This would strengthen the larger collection, and bring all children's books to one central point of consultation.
    The Olive Percival collection offers research students a rich store of information, in the study of literature for children; in the historical study of customs, dress and social life; in a study of the influence of adult literature on children's books, and, conversely, the influence of childhood reading on the works of the great writers, and in the history of educational theory and practice.
    Robert R. Hertel, English 200; June 1947.

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

    Subjects

    Percival, Olive, 1869-1945--Archives.
    Authors, American--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.
    Women book collectors--California--Los Angeles--Archival resources.

    Related Material

    Olive Percival Bookplate Collection (Collection 114/2). Available at Department of Special Collections, UCLA.