November 19, 2008
Library exhibit showcases textbooks from colonial-era readers to 'Dick and Jane'
American primers and readers published from the late 18th- to mid-20th centuries are on display in Green Library through Dec. 31.
American Primers & Readers Featuring the Words and Collection of Richard L. Venezky, in the Peterson Gallery and Munger Rotunda on the second floor of the library's Bing Wing, is free and open to the public.
Highlights of the exhibition include the New England Primer (1813), The Southern Primer (1860) and various editions of the 19th-century McGuffey readers, as well as the earlier Worcester readers, Lewis Monroe's guides to elocution, the Elson-Runkel readers that first introduced Dick and Jane in 1930-31 and an 1868 primer written in the Mormon phonetic alphabet.
The books are paired with excerpts from Richard Venezky's published work. Venezky, who died in 2004, was a leading expert in the history of literacy and reading. He received his Stanford doctorate in linguistics in 1965. In 2005, Venezky's family gave his extensive collection of American textbooks to the Stanford University Libraries, where it is housed in the Department of Special Collections and University Archives.
A small companion exhibition in the lobby of the Cubberley Building focuses on other aspects of Venezky's life and work.
Exhibit cases are illuminated Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. The gallery is accessible whenever Green Library is open, and hours vary with the academic schedule. For library hours, call 723-0931 or visit http://library.stanford.edu. (First-time visitors must register at the east entrance portal.)