by Kate Dietrick, Processing staff and Curator of the Berman Upper Midwest Jewish Archives.
When Lisa Von Drasek, curator for the Children’s Literature Research Collections, came into the Archives and Special Collections Central Processing suite and announced, “Have I got something for you!” before revealing her newest acquisition, I believe it was the first time I audibly squealed while at work. Because what she revealed was a rare gem whose final product delighted me as a child–she had the artist’s dummy for the beloved children’s book Amelia Bedelia.
Donated to the Kerlan Collection by Gretchen Siebel, the widow of the artist Fritz Siebel, the dummy documents the early drawings and layout of the 1963 publication Amelia Bedelia, written by Peggy Parish. Each page holds original ink drawings and watercolors by Fritz Siebel, matched up with taped-in text from Peggy Parish. On some pages there are scribbled notes – “Fritz–don’t have drapes ‘drawn’ i.e. not closed!”that help illuminate the process from draft to final product. By paging through the dummy you begin to see the makings of the lovably comedic Amelia Bedelia as she takes her chores list a bit too literally.
Since this document is over 50 years old, the adhesive tape no longer adheres to the page; instead it has become dried and cracked, leaving behind acidic brown stains on the page. Because of this, we will be partnering with the Conservation Lab at the Minnesota Historical Society on conservation efforts to ensure that this document will not only look great but endure for years to come. (Click on the images for a larger view.)
This artist’s dummy joins the original drawings we have from Fritz Siebel’s work on Amelia Bedelia and the Surprise Shower, and it also reunites the artist’s dummy with the author’s corrected typescript, as we also have the Peggy Parish Papers in the Kerlan Collection. The finding aid for the Peggy Parish Papers can be found here; the finding aid for the Fritz Siebel Papers can be found here. All of these materials are available to researchers for use in the Andersen Library.