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ca. 1900


Manuscript Collection Number 493


Accessioned:  Purchase, April 2005


Extent:  4 volumes (0.6 cubic ft)


Content:  Set of four workbooks


Access:  The collection is open for research.


Processed:  May 2005, by Colleen E. Lemke

Table of Contents

  • Introductory Note
  • Contents List

    Introductory Note


                The Helen Howard Wilson work book collection represents samples of work completed utilizing Freidrich Froebel’s “System of Gifts and Occupation” for early education.  The German Froebel (1782 - 1852), instructor and educational philosopher, invented the first systematized approach to teaching young children; he named it "Kindergarten."  His system built activities upon children’s play and used play objects, or “gifts” such as blocks, sticks, paper, pencils, and clay, in lessons for children.  Teachers were introduced to about twenty gifts in a “System of Gifts and Occupations,” many of which were craft-like “fancy work”:  cutting, folding, or weaving paper.  In the mid- and late-nineteenth century, as Froebel’s ideas exploded in popularity in Germany, then expanded across Europe, North America and Japan, many women trained to become kindergarten teachers.

                The four workbooks in this collection include "Sewing," the twelfth gift, with examples of colored thread stitched on paper; "Cutting," the thirteenth gift, with examples of cut paper work including abstract patterns, silhouettes, and paper vignettes; "Weaving," the fourteenth gift, with examples of paper weaving in abstract and concrete forms; and "Folding," the eighteenth gift, with samples of origami and paper folding.  Though biographical context about Helen Howard Wilson is unavailable for these work books, her personal name plates in each volume lead one to conjecture that she at least trained in the method, and may have taught with it.



    Source: Norman Brosterman, Inventing Kindergarten (New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1997).

Contents List

Volume        Descriptions of Contents


1          "Sewing" [12th gift]

            Grey cloth cover with gold lettering; 14 accordion-fold card stock leaves with 55 examples of colored thread stitching


2          "Cutting" [13th gift]

            Grey cloth cover with gold lettering; 22 accordion-fold leaves with 22 examples of cut abstract shapes, silhouettes, and vignettes


3          "Weaving" [14th gift]

            Grey cloth cover with gold lettering; 22 accordion-fold leaves with with 22 examples of colored paper strips woven in various patterns, and four additional patterns laid in


4          "Folding" [18th gift]

            Grey cloth cover with gold lettering; 6 accordion-fold leaves with 23 folded abstract patterns and origami shapes


UD Special Collections > Finding Aids
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