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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


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  • featured collection
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  • featured collection

About (Virginia's) Collection

(Virginia’s) original collection in the Archive spans 10 years, 1974-1984, ages 4 years and 6 months to 14 years. The full collection contains 2,185 items, which are reproduced on microfiche in the Reference Edition. (Virginia’s) work is notable for its high-intensity, high-detail depictions of homes and other settings filled with light, and for the lavish, intricate, and colorful detail with which she adorns her figures and settings, both interior and exterior. Home and family figure largely and so do courts and royalty, fairy tale and myth. Relationships between people are expressed through varied body postures and facial expressions. Her writing is often bound up with her visual work, telling dramatic stories of home relationships, adventures, royalty and myth, lively with conversation. Works call to mind illuminated manuscripts, in their close connection between visual art and written expression. She was a prolific drawer, often with marker. The characterizations of her figures and the explicitness of the settings generally imply the telling of a story. Valuing of competence, in part conveyed by knowledgeable depiction of tools and in part by the artist’s own skill with various mediums, toughens the emphasis on drama and relationship, and humor heightens the spirit of the work. Decorative and functional detail grow during the first six years of the collection. The visual work becomes simpler thereafter, with more instances of a single girl in a setting in year 7 (age 11) and more variety of relationships and emotions around age 12. By age 13, there is overall simplification of content and design and work with a widening range of mediums. Fantasy decreases in the later writing, with more probing of deep feelings and big ideas, more personal reflection. Narrative increases in complexity, further extending richness of detail.

Extended Image Selection

This set of 362 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Virginia’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 primarily on study of the 363 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 (Virginia’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 (Virginia), plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about her and her work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).