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Prospect Archive of Children's Work


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

About (Emma's) Collection

(Emma’s) original collection in the Archive spans nine years, 1976-1985, ages 5 to almost 14. The full collection contains 1588 items, which are reproduced on microfiche in the Reference Edition. (Emma's) work is colorful; characteristically these colors are lush rather than primary and the color combinations can be offbeat. Small imaginary worlds, landscapes, and, from her third year of school on, abstract designs (symmetric early on, later more syncopated), are favorite subjects. A charged atmosphere is sometimes created through such means as scribbled lines or transparency. “Light shining through” recurs. Her style includes fine but quick detail and qualities of lyricism and rhythm along with humor. The consistency across the collection is part of the evidence of persistence, of sustained effort. Each year shows increasing technical command of a widening range of media, with an explosion of productivity and emotional power in the later years. The later years include many drawings from life. (Emma’s) unassigned writing throughout the file is often in the style of a fairy tale in which (Emma) is the storyteller describing small worlds, magical transformations. There are also reports of historical events retold in quick, conversational style. Poetry and fictional work often rely on a strong sense of animation, sometimes making subjects out of colors or mundane objects, often in the context of family-like relationships. Some of the later writing shows a more self-reflective side. Throughout the file there is a breathless vivaciousness.

Extended Image Selection

This set of 251 color reproductions represents all the color images made of (Emma’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 251 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 (Emma’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 (Emma), plus, as available, notes of Descriptive Reviews about her and her work (see the Methodology and Resources pages).