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Judy Blume Archive Goes to Yale

Iconic young-adult author's papers find a home in university's rare books library

Judy Blume to Open Her Books to Yale

Jesse Dittmar/Redux

More than 85 million copies of Judy Blume's books have been sold, and her work has been translated into 32 languages, according to her website.

For over three generations, Judy Blume’s books have been some of the first novels we’ve read as kids. But for the first time, the celebrated author of young adult classics is making a trove of her archival material available to the public. Through an acquisition two years in the making, Blume, 79, is selling more than 50 boxes of material to Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The library notes that the archive “spans over four decades and documents the writing of over 20 published books,” as well as unpublished works and personal letters from both fans and detractors. According to the Wall Street Journal, the library is purchasing the collection for $500,000, which Blume says will go to her foundation, the Kids Fund, through which she makes charitable donations.

While picture books were popular for kids in the 1970s, Blume’s remarkable talent for storytelling expanded the scope of children’s literature, moving the focus from illustrations to prose. Her work tackles some of the most common issues facing adolescents, including divorce, friendships, faith and puberty. Arguably her most famous book, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, has consistently ranked as one of the most frequently challenged and banned novels for its content about sexuality and religion.

While Beinecke has a strong collection of documents — including papers from Gertrude Stein and James Joyce — the library’s acquisition of Blume’s archive strengthens its holdings in young adult fiction. “Young adult literature is among the most popular and beloved genres among readers, and yet one of the most largely unexamined areas of archival study,” Timothy Young, curator of the library's modern books and manuscripts, said in a press release from Beinecke. “My colleagues and I are excited about this acquisition for how it complements our existing collections and, especially, for how it will excite current and future generations of scholars and students.”

The archive will be available later in 2018. The Beinecke Library welcome researchers from all over, even those unaffiliated with the university, to view its collections, including these materials.