About the Repository

The Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Norlin Library houses a remarkable collection of fairy tales consisting of some 2000 pieces. This outstanding collection includes a fascinating variety of materials:  early modern printed books intended for adult readers; lavishly illustrated children’s books; nineteenth-century chapbooks that cost just a penny; anthologies of fairy tales from around the globe; and stereoscopic viewing cards.  It is not only a treasury of tales to be read, studied, and enjoyed, but also a vibrant museum that documents the visual tradition of fairy tales. Patrons can explore and compare illustrations of classic tales like Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, and Puss in Boots in images as diverse as 17th-century  Italian wood cuts, engravings by 19th-century masters like Gustave Doré and George Cruikshank,  richly colored images by renowned 20th-century fairy tale illustrators Edmund Du Lac, Kay Nielsen, Arthur Rackham, and contemporary artists’ and photographers’ books.

This database makes this wonderful collection more accessible by allowing users to conduct more finely tuned searches based, for example, on tale type (e.g. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast) or a motif (e.g. ring, dragon). Summaries of the tales and notes on interesting aspects of the particular version of the tale or its illustrations accompany each entry.  Links to digitized versions of the tales allow readers to preview texts before visiting Special Collections or in moments when the Library is closed. 

This ongoing project is student built involving the work of both undergraduates and graduate students under the direction of Special Collections Librarian Sean Babbs and Associate Professor Suzanne Magnanini of the Deparment of French and Italian. CU Art Museum Curator Hope Saska trained students in Visual Thinking Strategies. It has been supported by ASSETT’s Innovation Incubator, the President’s Teaching Scholar’s Program, and UROP.