By Elizabeth Baker, Volunteer _________________________________________________________________________
Did you know that we hold a huge collection of Children’s Books? Some of it published long ago, some from other parts of the world, and some, I recently discovered, from our own faculty. Marie M. Jenkins was a professor at JMU from 1962 until she retired in 1975. While she was at JMU, she did copious amounts of Planarian research (If, like me, you barely remember biology, those are flatworms).
In Special Collections you can find not only Jenkins’ children’s books, but also her personal documents donated to us upon her retirement (SC 5001). Her manuscript collection is vast and contains not only notes and correspondence about her research but also personal correspondence with Dr. W.L Mengebier, the head of the Madison College Biology Department in the late 1950s- 1960s. From reading their correspondence one can argue that their shared interest in Planarian research is what ultimately brought Jenkins to Madison College.
Jenkins wrote seven scientific children’s books. They are geared mainly toward pre-teens and teens. They contain more information than drawings, but the illustrations and photos they do have are quite interesting. For the purposes of this blog we will look at three of her works that are in the Children’s Books Collection: Animals Without Parents, Kangaroos, Opossums, And Other Marsupials, and Deer, Moose, Elk, and Their Family.
Animals Without Parents, which was her first book, discusses just what its title suggest: asexual reproduction and the animals that use it. It also examines things like how regeneration works and parthenogenesis. Jenkins’ writing style is simple and to the point, making it easy to understand her basic explanations. The photos are fascinating. One of the really interesting ones taken by Jenkins is of a flatworm.
Her other books have the same writing style. They are simple, to the point, and full of basic information broken down so that even the most novice science student would be able to understand. I found the beautiful illustrations in these two books fascinating. Here we have a picture from Kangaroos, Opossums, and Other Marsupials illustrating the many phases of their lives.
And here is an illustration of a great migration of caribou found in Deer, Moose, Elk, and Their Family.
Please visit the JMU Special Collections Library to see more of our children’s literature collection, and the papers of Marie M. Jenkins! We are housed in Carrier 220 for the summer.