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Don Freeman Papers

Identifier: CLRC-130

Scope and Contents

The collection contains production material, including manuscript and/or illustrative material, for several dozen children's books illustrated by Don Freeman (many he also wrote, as well). Materials include typescripts, proofs, finished illustrations, color separations, sketches, and dummies. Also included in the collection is material related to unpublished titles, various sketches and art, clippings, correspondence, and miscellaneous items. Also included are several digitized 16mm films. Several of the items are inscribed to Dr. Irvin Kerlan.


  • 1927 - 2017


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 Sketch

Don Freeman was born August 11, 1908, in San Diego, CA. He attended the Art Students League in New York City for two years. In 1931 he married Lydia Cooley, an art student, and the couple had one son, Roy. Don Freeman worked as a freelance artist and as a graphic artist for the New York Times and New York Herald Tribune before beginning to illustrate books in the 1940s. In 1940 he illustrated William Saroyan's My Name is Aram. During his career, Don Freeman illustrated children's books by other well-known authors such as Ann Nolan Clark, Clyde R. Bulla, and Julia Cunningham. In 1951 Don and Lydia Freeman published their first book for children, Chuggy and the Blue Caboose, and in 1953 they published Pet of the Met. . He received various honors for his work, including a Caldecott Honor citation for Fly High, Fly Low in 1958. He is perhaps best remembered for Corduroy. Don Freeman died on February 1, 1978.

Biographical Sources: Something About the Author, Volume 17, p. 60-69 Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, 3rd ed., p. 360-361


16 Cubic Feet (26 boxes [4 record cartons, 2 hollinger record boxes, 3 oversize roll boxes, 1 oversize portfolio, 16 flat boxes])

15.3 Gigabytes (22 digital files)

Language of Materials



The collection contains production material, including manuscript and illustrative material, for children's books and related materials written and/or illustrated by Don Freeman.


The collection is arranged into 4 series. Publications are arranged alphabetically by title.

  1. Publications written and illustrated by Don Freeman
  2. Publications illustrated by Don Freeman
  3. Unpublished
  4. Professional

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Digitzed audio strips and 16mm film consist of .wav and .mp3 audio files and .mp4 and .mov video files.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Don Freeman gave part of this collection to Dr. Irvin Kerlan, who in turn donated his collection to the University of Minnesota. Material was also donated by Freeman's widow, Lydia Cooley Freeman, and his son, Roy Freeman. One sketch "Cast of Characters" was donated by Nanci McCrackin, and a class sketch was donated by David DuRee.


Don Freeman Papers, 1931-1985
Christina Cowan and Larry Peterson
2004, 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • May 2023: Collection reprocessed by Carter Thurmond. Description updated by Caitlin Marineau.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Children's Literature Research Collections Collecting Area

Suite 113, Elmer L. Andersen Library