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Irving Adler Papers

Identifier: CLRC-92

Scope and Content

The collection contains production material for over 65 titles; many of these titles were written in collaboration with Ruth Alder, and one Language and Manwith Joyce Adler. Materials include holographs and typescripts, front matter, galley and page proofs, dummies, notes, research material, correspondence and clippings. Illustrations for many of these titles can be found in the Ruth Adler Papers. Illustrations for Language and Mancan be found in the Laurie Jo Lambie papers.


  • undated, 1954-1975, 1989-1995


Language of Materials

Collection materials in English

Access and Use

Collection is open for researchers with no restrictions. Registration with the collection is required. Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only. Materials will be retrieved from and returned to storage areas by staff members.


Please contact staff regarding copyright status of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under fair use provisions of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code).

Biographical Sketch

Irving Adler was born on April 27, 1913 in New York City. He received a B.S. from City College of New York (1931), and an M.A. and Ph.D. (1961) in Mathematics from Columbia University. Adler taught high school math in New York for twenty years and later taught math at Columbia University and Bennington College in Vermont. He married Ruth Relis in 1935. Adler began writing science books for children in 1952. His first publication The Secret of Lightwas written with the aim of presenting "scientific ideas simply" so they can be "readily understood" by young readers. Ruth Adler was a frequent contributor, co-author and illustrator for many of Adler's books. The Adler's "Reason Why" series covered many topics in science and math, and were written with a "simplicity of style" that provided accurate, up-to-date information that not only told of what is known about a given topic but how the facts were reasoned and established.

After Ruth Adler's death in 1968, Irving Adler continued to write; he collaborated on one book Language and Man(1970), with his second wife, Joyce Sparer Adler. Irving Adler believed that learning about science could be fun and that one should never "write down" to children. Throughout his career, Adler authored over 85 books on science and math, mostly for children. His works have been praised by critics for "presenting complex ideas in [an] accurate, comprehensible, and interesting fashion," and "for introducing young readers to math and science" with a unique "clarity and lack of condescension." He was awarded the National Science Teachers Association/Children's Book Council citations for Outstanding Science Books for Children (1972, 1975, 1980, 1990) and the New York State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development award for Outstanding Contributions to Children's Literature (1961) with Ruth Adler. Irving Adler died on September 22, 2012.


6 boxes (6.0 cubic feet)


The collection includes holographs and typescripts, front matter, galley and page proofs, dummies, notes, research material, and correspondence for over 65 non-fiction children's books written by Irving Adler.


Materials are arranged in alphabetical order by title.

Physical Location

Materials are housed in the Andersen Library caverns. Please allow 60 minutes for retrieval.

Accession Information:

Part of the collection was originally given to Dr. Irvin Kerlan, who in turn donated his collection to the University of Minnesota. Additional material was placed on permanent loan by Irving and Ruth Adler in the 1960s; subsequent donations were made by Irving Adler in 1969, 1980s, and 1990s.

Related Materials

Ruth Adler Papers

Laurie Jo Lambie Papers
Irving Adler Papers, undated, 1954-1975, 1989-1995
Christina Cowan and Sharlene Murphy
2004, 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Children's Literature Research Collections Collecting Area

Suite 113, Elmer L. Andersen Library