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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection
  • featured collection

About (Neil's) Collection

(Neil’s) original collection in the Archive covers 9 years, 1970-1979, ages 5 years and 2 months to 13 years and 11 months. The full file of originals numbers 324 visual items and 186 written items, which are reproduced on microfiche in the Reference Edition. (Neil’s) work is notable for these persistent themes: mapping, overview and landscape; patterning, and schematics; machinery and equipment, both invented and realistic; mystery and hiddenness; adventure, conflict, and threats of danger; dwellings, both interiors and exteriors, home, representing safety and comfort; subtle humor running throughout work; deep interest in nature.

Some enduring characteristics of his style include preference for line, particularly pencil; outline, but also selective and fine details and shading; humorous inventiveness both in machinery and people in costumes and poses; interest in tools and history; color used sparingly for emphasis; and rhythm and movement conveyed within compositions. An overall characteristic is his eye for detail and upbeat approach.

Changes in his work are characterized by a growing variety and range of content; increased use of other mediums, including pastels and water color; bright colors, geometric design; a light, impressionistic touch, as well as realistic illustrations of texts; more writing: long travel/adventure narratives that end in safe refuge at home; story development with understated emotion, and dry humor.

Extended Image Selection

This set of 180 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Neil’s) work for the Reference Edition. The selection results from the work of a participant in the Archive Scholars/Fellows project of 1983-85 or of comparable study in later institutes. The participants—generally educators—each went through each item in the child’s collection, organized and numbered it chronologically, and together with others similarly engaged, used Prospect’s Descriptive Processes to make additional collaborative inquiries into the work and the common and divergent threads between the children. The selection of color images for the Reference Edition was made on the basis of this study, to represent characteristic and exceptional themes, motifs, stylistic tendencies, and choices of media, through the duration of the collection.

Concise Image Selection

This sub-set of 60 images was selected based on study of the 180 color slides. The selection was also somewhat influenced by the quality of reproduction in digital form. Prospect participants have found that 60 images are sufficient, and manageable, for a group of teachers to begin to see how a body of work by a child, created spontaneously and collected over a period of years, reveals persisting patterns of thematic interest and stylistic characteristics and reflects back on how the child thinks and what might support his or her learning. It is Prospect’s hope that this selection will be used by educators for this purpose.

Selected Writings

The selected writings are transcriptions of a child’s writing. They were made by various people working with the file, at different times, generally in preparation for a workshop or institute at which the child’s work was to be studied. Other than the use of pseudonyms and the removal of other identifying elements, no consistent guidelines for handling spelling, punctuation, or other idiosyncrasies were applied.


The catalogues are year-by-year summaries of (Neil’s) original collection, preceded by an overall summary, all prepared by Archive Scholars/Fellows working with the original material.

Narrative Records

The records consist of Prospect School teachers’ weekly notes and semi-annual reports to parents about (Neil), plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about him and his work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).