A Guide to the Angela Shelf Medearis Papers, 1983-2001
Children’s author and cookbook writer Angela Shelf Medearis was born on November 16, 1956, in Hampton, Virginia. In 1975, she married Michael Rene Medearis, and the couple moved to Austin, Texas. Ms. Medearis attended Southwest Texas State University, has one daughter, Deanna, and one grandchild, Anysa. After working as a secretary for a number of years Ms. Medearis began writing full time in 1987. She founded Book Boosters in 1988, a non-profit, grant supported, multi-cultural reading program tutoring and teaching literacy to grade school children. Her sister Sandra currently directs the program. In 1990, after many rejections, Medearis published her first book, Picking Peas for a Penny, a picture book counting rhyme. According to Medearis, "Picture books are a child's first step into a lifetime of reading. That is why I feel that my job is important. I want to write in such an interesting and exciting way that the memory of reading my book, and the information I've related about a particular event, will linger with a young reader for a lifetime." (www. …) Medearis has gone on to publish dozens of children’s books about African-Americans with real life themes, as well as history books geared towards young readers, such as Come This Far to Freedom (1993), and brief biographies of Coretta Scott King and Ida B. Wells.
Medearis routinely visits schools and performs storytelling, has produced Children’s Radio Bookmobile for the University of Texas at Austin (a brief weekly program featuring multi-ethnic children’s literature), and has curated African-American exhibits for the George Washington Carver Museum in Austin. Additionally, Mr. and Ms. Medearis act as consultants and writers for Scott Foresman, Scholastic, and Macmillan publishers, creating or contributing textbooks and children’s books. Among many other awards, Medearis won the first ever Teddy, a children’s-book award presented by Laura Bush (Poppa’s New Pants, 1996). In 1997, Texas Monthly magazine featured Ms. Medearis and described her as the best-selling children’s book author in Texas, with over 1.5 million copies of works in print. "I write the kind of books I always longed to find in the library when I was a child. Every child needs to find a reflection of himself or herself when looking for a book in the library or bookstore."
Annotated drafts, typescripts, page proofs, galleys, correspondence, photographs, notes, and newsclippings dating from 1984-2001 represent the writing career of award-winning children’s book writer, Angela Shelf Medearis.
Over one half of the collection is comprised of materials related to the development and creation of Medearis’ works (children’s books, books for young readers, cookbooks, articles, poetry, and video projects). Other series include Correspondence, Subject Files, Newsclippings, Publicity, Awards, Calendars, Photographs, Personal Programs, and Artworks, the bulk of which also relate directly to Medearis’ writing career.
Series 1: Works (1987-2000)
Annotated drafts, typescripts, page proofs, galleys, correspondence, and notes represent the creation and development of Medearis’ works in this series, and have been arranged into the following subseries: A. Children’s Books (1987-2000), B. Books for Young Readers (1987-1997), C. Cookbooks (1994-1999), D. Articles (1987-1998), E. Poetry (1987-1996, n.d.), and F. Video projects (1996-1999). Within each of these subseries, materials have been arranged in chronological order, beginning with the earliest dates. Extensive annotated drafts and correspondence with editors and illustrators makes this series highly illustrative of Medearis’ working process. Additional publisher and editor correspondence can be found in the Correspondence series, and Publicity correspondence in the Publicity series.
Subseries D, Articles, includes drafts of essays and articles. Some include minimal editorial correspondence, some include copy of item as published. Includes one piece by Michael Medearis. Subseries F, Poetry, includes mostly undated typescripts, few handwritten drafts. Many files include a single version of a poem, some include multiple annotated drafts. The bulk of the poems seem to date from late 1980s.
Series 2: Correspondence (1984-2000)
This series has been divided into the following subseries: A. Letters from Children (1989-1999), B. Publisher correspondence (1987-2000), C. Author visits / appearances (1988-2000), and D. General (1984-2000). Each of these subseries has been arranged chronologically by year.
Letters from Children generally include fan letters and letters thanking Medearis for visiting their school as an author/storyteller. Publisher correspondence includes interaction between Medearis and the various publishing company staff editors, advertising agents, and special event planners. Some letters relate to specific titles, while others relate to several titles or to Medearis’ career in general. See also correspondence in Publicity series.
Subseries C, Author visits / appearances, includes requests, confirmations, and thank you notes related to storytelling visits and appearances made by Medearis at schools, reading groups, and other locations. General correspondence does not fall into any of these categories, and tends to include topics such as professional memberships, fundraising. It also includes early correspondence related to Medearis pre-writing career.
Series 3: Subject Files (1983-1996)
Newsclippings, correspondence, pamphlets, and information packets related to subjects of interest to Medearis comprise this series. The files have been arranged in alphabetical order by subject file name.
Series 4: Newsclippings (1987-2001)
Many of the newsclippings in this series are about Medearis, others simply represent her interests. Clippings have been arranged in chronological order by year.
Series 5: Publicity (1988-1999)
This series is comprised of biographical notes, resumes, book catalogs, correspondence, mailing lists, and photographs related to the commercial promotion of Medearis’ books.
Series 6: Awards (1991-1996)
Includes correspondence regarding awards and honors received, as well as those applied for and not received. Includes certificate for Teddy Children’s Book Award, 1996.
Series 7: Calendars (1996-1997)
This series includes one calendar per year for 1996 and 1997. Each notes daily appointments, some months contain no information.
Series 8: Photographs (1987, n.d.)
Photographs taken by Medearis or other unidentified photographers comprise the bulk of this series. Formats for these images include color and b/w slides, photoprints, and negatives. Photographs of Medearis and her family are present in color and b/w print formats.
Series 9: Personal Programs (1987-1992)
Correspondence, videotapes, and newsclippings relate to Medearis’ involvement in Book Boosters, Children’s Radio Bookmobile, and Special Sitters.
Series 10: Artworks (n.d.)
This series includes three color renderings of various subjects, by unidentified child and adult artists, with the exception of one piece by 4th grade student Ravi Nair.
Open for Research. Photocopies and reproductions may be made with the donor’s permission only. Ms. Medearis holds copyright for unpublished materials, out of print books, and joint copyright for in-print material.
Angela Shelf Medearis Papers, Southwestern Writers Collection/Texas State University-San Marcos.
Gifts donated by Angela Medearis, Accession #s 2001-092, 2001-105, 2001-129.
Processed by Amanda York, 2001.
Detailed Description of the Collection