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Irving and Ruth Adler Papers

Identifier: CLRC-92

Scope and Contents

The collection contains production material for over 65 titles; many of these titles were cowritten by both Irving and Ruth Adler, and one, Language and Man, with Joyce Adler. Materials include drafts, proofs, dummies, notes, research, correspondence, and clippings, as well as illustrative material in a variety of media (many with separations), studies, sketchs, layouts, and related items. Additionally, the collection contains royalty statements and a program for Ruth Adler's memorial service.


  • 1954 - 1995


Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Elmer L. Andersen Library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

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.

Ruth Relis Adler was born April 20, 1915 in Sullivan County, New York. She attended Barnard College and graduated with an A.B. in 1935, and received an M.A. from Hunter College in 1959. Ruth Adler taught mathematics, science, and art in various schools in the New York City area from 1950-1960, and later taught mathematics at Bennington College in Vermont from 1961-1962.

Irving and Ruth married in 1935. Irving's first science book for children was The Secret of Light. His next book Discover the Stars, was illustrated by Ruth, who illustrated most of his books until her death in 1968, as well as coauthoring many works (including The Reason Why series). After Ruth Adler's death, Irving Adler continued to write; he collaborated on one book Language and Man(1970), with his second wife, Joyce Sparer Adler. He also frequently collaborated with his daughter, author and illustrator Peggy Adler, who illustrated many of his books. Irving died in 2012.

Biographical sources:

"Irving Adler (1913-2012)." Something About the Author. Vol. 298. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2016.

"Ruth Adler (1915-1968)." Something About the Author. Vol. 1. Detroit, MI: Gale, 1971.


24.31 Cubic Feet (16 Boxes (9 Paige Boxes, 2 Hollinger record Box, 1 half record Hollinger box, and 4 Flat Boxes))

Language of Materials



The Irving and Ruth Adler collection includes drafts, proofs, dummies, notes, research, and correspondence for children's books created by the Adlers, both in collaboration and individually.


The collection is arranged into various series by creators or material type. Subseries are arranged alphabetically by publication title.

  1. Writings and Publications by Irving and Ruth Adler
  2. Writings and Publications by Irving Adler
  3. Other
  4. Personal
  5. Royalty Statements

Immediate Source of Acquisition

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. Peggy Adler donated additional material to the collection in 2022.

Related Materials

See the Peggy Adler Papers, Ellen Viereck Papers, and Laurie Jo Lambie Papers for related materials.


Irving and Ruth Adler Papers, 1954-1995
Christina Cowan and Sharlene Murphy
2004, 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 2012: Irving Adler papers reprocessed by Carly Lawrence; EAD updated by Karen Spilman
  • December 2022: Irving Adler papers and Ruth Adler papers, which had previously been separated, recombined into single collection, reprocessed, and finding aid updated by Carter Lynn Thurmond. Material recently donated by Peggy Adler, including production materials and royalty statements, added to the collection. Some description updated by Caitlin Marineau.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Children's Literature Research Collections Collecting Area

Suite 113, Elmer L. Andersen Library