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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


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

About (Alva's) Collection

(Alva's) original collection in the Archive spans eight years, 1976-1985, ages 5 to 13. The full collection contains 952 items, which are reproduced on microfiche in the Reference Edition. The collection stands out for (Alva's) attention to composition. She uses boundaries, framing, corner treatments, and lines to divide the space of a page. Pattern, repetition, symmetry, and layering appear across the collection and within individual pieces. Lines, bands, panels, and columns recur, with a preference for the vertical, but also intersecting lines and bands. (Alva) uses a variety of media, including chalk, cray-pas, pencil, crayon, colored pencil, watercolor, tempera, printing, rubbings, marbling, and collage, and she mixes media within a piece of work. Consistent motifs include natural and outdoor scenes, animals (often in groups), hills, suns, water, houses with trees and flowers, bursts of color, and patterned or geometric forms. Vivid color permeates the visual collection. Much of (Alva's) written work deals with relationship, with strong feeling at the core. The strength of feeling is contained by a style that is structured and attentive to detail and by a straightforward tone. Animals (especially horses and mice) in her written work experience changes of relationship and feeling. Relationships among people are explored as well, and in her later work values of equality and justice come to the fore.

Extended Image Selection

This set of 172 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Alva’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 63 images was selected based on study of the 172 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

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 (Alva’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 (Alva) plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about her and her work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).