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Lois Lenski Papers

Identifier: MSS 0015

Scope and Contents

The Lois Lenski Papers date from circa 1800-1974 and contain research notes, correspondence, sketches, manuscripts, illustrations, proofs, book jackets, publicity materials, artifacts, articles, toys and other items documenting Lenski's life and career.


  • 1800 - 1974
  • Majority of material found within 1915 - 1974


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright is retained by the creators of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information. Please see our Sensitive Materials Statement.

Biographical or Historical Information

Lois Lenski was born 14 October 1893, in Springfield, Ohio. From age five to eighteen, her family lived in Anna, Ohio, thereafter, the family moved to Columbus as her father took a job as professor at Capital University. Lois attended The Ohio State University and earned her bachelor's degree in education with a minor in art in 1915. After college, she went to New York for four years of study at the Art Student's League. It was there that she first met Arthur Covey, a muralist to whom she would become an assistant. She studied in London at the Westminster School of Art for one year in 1920. Lois married Arthur Covey upon her return to the U.S. in 1921 and became stepmother to his children, Margaret (12) and Laird (5). In 1929, Lois gave birth to her son, Stephen, just before the family moved to Connecticut.

Lois published her first book, Skipping Village, in 1927, after having illustrated the books of other children's authors. She published her second book, A Little Girl of 1900, in 1928. She wrote a variety of children's picture, story, and historical novel books before starting the Mr. Small Series of books, based on her observations of Stephen and other children identifying with the drivers of their small toy trucks, trains, and planes. The Davy series of books began in 1941 and was inspired by her grandson, David Chisholm (Margaret's son).

In the early 1940s, Lois' health declined and on doctor's orders, the family spent their winters in warmer southern states, first Louisiana, and later, Florida. It was on these winter trips that she researched the children living in different regions of the U.S. and launched her popular Regional and Roundabout America series. In 1951, Lois and her husband built a house in Tarpon Springs, Florida where they spent roughly half of every year. Arthur Covey became seriously ill in 1958 and died in February 1960. In 1964, Lois sold the home in Connecticut and thereafter lived in Florida year round. She continued writing, publishing her autobiography in 1972. Aged 80, Lois Lenski died at her Florida home in September 1974.

Lois Lenski was a very prolific author, writing nearly 100 books, as well as producing many articles, poems, essays, speeches, songs, and illustrations for other authors. She was also recognized for her artistic and literary works many times over. She received: The Newbery Honor Book award for Phebe Fairchild: Her Book (1937) and Indian Captive: The Story of Mary Jemison (1942), The Martha Kinney Cooper Ohioana Medal for Bayou Suzette (1944), The Newbery Medal for Strawberry Girl (1946), and the Children's Book Award (Child Study Association of America) for Judy's Journey (1947). Personal honors bestowed upon Lois Lenski include: Honorary doctorates from Wartburg College (Waverly, Iowa) (1959), Woman's College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1962), Capital University (Columbus, Ohio) (1966), Children's Collection Medallion from University of Southern Mississippi (1969), and the Regina Medal for a lifetime of distinguished service (Catholic Library Association) (1969).


27.00 Linear Feet (16 boxes)

Language of Materials



Lois Lenski (1893-1974) was a Newbery Medal-winning children's author and illustrator.

The Lois Lenski Papers date from circa 1800-1974 and contain research notes, correspondence, sketches, manuscripts, illustrations, proofs, book jackets, publicity materials, artifacts, articles, toys and other items documenting Lenski's life and career.

Arrangement Note

This collection is arranged in the following series: 1. Books by Lois Lenski, 2. Books illustrated by Lois Lenski, 3. Contributions/Other Published Works, 4. Articles about Lois Lenski, 5. Art, 6. Promotional/Publisher Material, 7. Correspondence, 8. Miscellaneous, 9. Lenski's Collections, 10. Artifacts, 11. Photographs. Some series are further divided. Arrangement within series varies and is described under each series.

Method of Acquisition

Gift of the author, 1958 to 1968 Additional original illustrations given by Lenski's son, Steven Covey, in 1993 and 1995. Box of toys designed by Lois Lenski given by Steven Covey in 2003.

Related Materials

Lois Lenski collection at Illinois State University. Lois Lenski collection at Syracuse University. Lois Lenski collection at The University of Southern Mississippi.

Offensive Language Statement

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Our finding aids and other collection descriptions may occasionally re-use language provided by creators or former holders of the materials, but we strive to place outdated or offensive terminology in context. That said, we recognize that we may not always make the right decision and welcome feedback from all sources so we can learn and adjust our practices. Please contact us at if you encounter problematic language in our finding aids or other collection description. We will review the language and, as appropriate, update it in a way that balances preservation of the original context with our ongoing commitment to describing materials with respectful and inclusive language.

Processing Information

Processed by Scott Hinshaw

Lois Lenski Papers
Scott Hinshaw
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives Repository

P.O. Box 26170
320 College Ave.
Greensboro NC 27402-6170 US