The Carolyn Davis Collection consists of more than 300 books by and about Louisa May Alcott. This collection contains examples of almost all of Alcott’s most popular works as well as a number of her lesser-known writings. Among these titles are her first book Flower Fables, early to modern printings of Little Women, and a number of other works such as Little Men, Jo’s Boys, and Under the Lilacs. The collection also encompasses some biographies of Alcott, books about Concord, Massachusetts, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and ephemera.
Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) is widely known as author of Little Women or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, to the transcendental philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott and Abigail May, Louisa grew up in Concord, Massachusetts with her three sisters. The family often experienced severe poverty and Louisa’s income became pivotal to the family’s survival. She worked as a nurse, seamstress and domestic servant until the publication of her first book, Flower Fables, in 1855 which netted the author thirty-two dollars.
With the publication of Little Women in 1868, Alcott achieved critical and financial success. The characters of the novel were drawn from those of Alcott’s sisters, and many of its episodes from those she and her family had experienced. Alcott’s masterpiece was followed by a succession of wholesome domestic narratives, the so-called Little Women series.
Since Alcott’s death her reputation has been reappraised as a result of the discovery of a large number of sensational “pot-boilers,” written in secret and published anonymously or under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard. These tales, written prior to the publication of Little Women, earned her between $25 and $100 each from periodical story papers. Beginning in 1975, republication of Alcott’s sensational stories spurred interest in her long out-of-print novels. The discovery of these stories has led to a recognition of Alcott as a far more complex and prolific writer than was originally thought.
What is a finding aid?
A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.