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Alumni & Friends

A is for Archer

The late marguerite Archer, who died in July at 88, once commented that she had "a wonderful time collecting books, often elusive quarry but always worth the chase." In 1982 she donated more than 3,500 historical children's books and periodicals, as well as puzzles, toys and games, to the J. Paul Leonard Library. Today, thanks to other generous donations, the Marguerite Archer Collection of Historic Children's Materials has more than doubled in size.

Growing up in the small town of Pottsville, Penn., Archer nestled with her Beatrix Potter books in a bedroom window seat before moving on to the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Arthur Conan Doyle. She grew up to become an award-winning teacher and librarian who introduced countless young people to the joys of reading.

Neither an alumna nor a former professor, Archer visited SFSU for the first time in the early 1980s. "She was impressed by the vibrant energy of the campus, and she knew that this was the place where the collection belonged," explains Meredith Eliassen (B.A., '89), curator of the Archer Collection.

More than "kiddie lit" for teachers-to-be and children, the collection offers important insights into childhood from the 1730s to present day and includes books about moral education and etiquette, textbooks and children's literature.

"The materials in the Archer Collection can be used as research resources for such topics as folk tales, customs, dress, even looking at religious education at a certain period of time," says former University Archivist Helene Whitson. "Marguerite gave San Francisco State and the general public a rich legacy of information and beauty."

-- Adrianne Bee

Interested in supporting the preservation of the Archer Collection? Contact the Library's development officer, Susan Hawk, at 415/405-0992.

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