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Katherine Paterson Papers

Identifier: CLRC-63

Scope and Content

The collection contains production materials for titles published between 1974 and 2017, including two for adults on children's literature. The collection also includes a substantial amount of correspondence and a typescript for a speech given at King College. The collection includes manuscripts, typescripts, page proofs, notes, and research materials. Some of this material is in Japanese. There is also a typescript for a story that appeared in the magazine Presbyterian Survey and a copy of the magazine's Light of Love 1989 Advent Calendar. The correspondence is placed with titles it refers to, with the miscellaneous correspondence and its accompanying material placed under the Personal series.


  • 1973 - 2017


Restrictions on Access

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.

Restrictions on Use

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

Katherine Paterson was born October 31, 1932 in Qing Jiang, China, and came to the United States in 1940. She attended King College in Bristol, Tennessee, graduating in 1954, and received a M.A. from Presbyterian School of Christian Education in 1957. She did postgraduate study at the Kobe School of Japanese Language from 1957 to 1960 and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, M.R.E. in 1962.

Katherine Paterson worked as a teacher and missionary prior to writing children's books. She published her first book for children and young adults, The Sign of the Chrysanthemum, in 1973. Like many of her later works, it is historical fiction set in East Asia and draws on Paterson's knowledge of the civilizations, languages, and history of the area and her deep appreciation of Asian cultures. In 1977, she published Bridge to Terabithia, the story of two children's close friendship and an imaginary world that is shattered when they are faced with tragedy. The book won Katherine Paterson the first of her two Newbery Awards. She received the second Newbery Award for Jacob Have I Loved, the story of twins, Louise and Caroline, and the intense sibling rivalry Louise feels towards her twin and how she learns to overcome it.

Many of Katherine Paterson's books deal with the search for identity and finding one's own role in a family. In all her books for children and young adults she draws on the three things she considers have shaped her life and work: her childhood in Asia, living in the American South, and her strong religious beliefs, grounded in her Presbyterian faith and its strong Calvinist foundation. Katherine Paterson won the Kerlan Award in 1983. She has also received many other awards for her writing.

Biographical Source: Something About the Author, Vol. 92, p. 175-182


12 Linear Feet (12 boxes)

Language of Materials




Katherine Paterson's papers focus on her work as an author and translator of children's and young adult literature. The collection includes production material as well as a substantial amount of correspondence and a typescript of a speech given by Katherine Paterson on her work. The collection contains manuscripts, typescripts, page proofs, notes, correspondence, clippings, reviews and research materials. Some of the production material is in Japanese.


The collection is arranged alphabetically by title.

Source of acquisition

Gift of Katherine Paterson

Katherine Paterson Papers, 1973-2017
Christina Cowan, April 1995; Lois Steer, November, 2004
November 2004
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • December 23, 2015: EAD updated by Teresa Tjepkes, collection reprocessed by Payal Doshi.
  • September 16, 2016: EAD updated Katelyn Ostby
  • April 2019: New material added and collection guide updated.
  • June 2020: Description updated by Caitlin Marineau.

Collecting Area Details

Contact The Children's Literature Research Collections Collecting Area

Suite 113, Elmer L. Andersen Library