Skip to main content

Vivian Gussin Paley papers

 Collection — Box: 1-10
Identifier: 110.3279
This set of papers consists of some correspondence and numerous clippings related to Vivian Gussin Paley’s published works, along with articles by and about Paley; items related to conferences, workshops, and symposia; autographed books; audio-visual materials related to interviews and presentations made by Vivian Gussin Paley; and foreign-language editions of her books.

Series 1: Books, 1976 - 2010 (1.25 cu. ft.) This series contains a small amount of correspondence and many clippings related to Vivian Gussin Paley’s thirteen books. The correspondence is generally from Paley’s publishers or from friends and colleagues. Clippings are book reviews, articles, and listings from various newspapers, journals, and magazines. At the end of the series are publishers’ catalogs and flyers listing more than one book.

Series 2: Articles, 1973 - 2010 (1.25 cu. ft.) This series consists of magazine, journal articles, and reviews by and about Vivian Gussin Paley and not related to a specific book of hers. Articles by Vivian Gussin Paley are grouped together in Box 3; articles about Vivian Gussin Paley are grouped together in Box 4.

Series 3: Conferences, 1984 - 2010 (.75 cu. ft.) This series contains materials related to presentations by Vivian Gussin Paley at conferences, workshops, and symposia. Of note are items concerning the Outstanding Educator in the English Language Arts award, presented at the National Council of Teachers of English convention in 2004.

Series 4: Awards, 1987 - 2010 (.25 cu. ft.) This series contains materials related to awards and honors presented to Vivian Gussin Paley.

Series 5: Correspondence, 1988 - 2010 (.25 cu. ft.) This series contains several letters of appreciation in addition to letters from publishers, friends, and colleagues.

Series 6: Autographed Books, 1979 - 2010 (.75 cu. ft.) This series contains one or more autographed copies of each of Vivian Gussin Paley’s thirteen books.

Series 7: Audio-Visual Materials, 1990 - 2007 (.75 cu. ft.) This series contains photographs, cassette tapes, and videotapes related to interviews and presentations made by Vivian Gussin Paley. Several items are marked with minimal information.

Series 8: Foreign Language Editions, 1992 - 2007 (.75 cu. ft.) This series contains one or more foreign language editions of eleven books written by Vivian Gussin Paley.


  • 1973 - 2010


Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open to research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. The donor has unconditionally given the papers to the Strong. Intellectual property rights for published books are retained by Harvard University Press and the University of Chicago Press.


6.5 Linear Feet (10 boxes)

Biographical Note

Vivian Gussin Paley (1929-2019) was a noted preschool and kindergarten teacher and early childhood education researcher. She taught and did most of her research at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. She was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and authored thirteen books.

Paley was born in 1929 in Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Philosophy degree from the University of Chicago in 1947 and a B.A. in Psychology from Newcomb College in 1950. She then taught in New Orleans and later in Great Neck, New York. After receiving her M.A. from Hofstra University in 1962, she returned to Chicago where she remained for the rest of her teaching career.

Paley’s books contained her observations of and reflections about her classroom and students, primarily those at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools where she taught preschool and kindergarten for many years. To collect data, Paley made audio-recordings of her classrooms so that she could listen to and analyze the interactions that occurred. In so doing, she heard private conversations among children that helped her think about the ways young children communicate with each other. She used what she discovered to improve her teaching and children’s lives. Paley’s writings focused primarily on three major areas of concern she saw in children: fantasy, friendship, and fairness. Many educators believed that Paley’s greatest legacy is in the area of storytelling and fantasy play, which she argued could significantly impact a child’s academic and social growth.

Paley passed away on July 26, 2019.

System of Arrangement

The papers have been divided into the following series:

Series 1: Books

Series 2: Articles

Series 3: Conferences

Series 4: Awards

Series 5: Correspondence

Series 6: Autographed Books

Series 7: Audio-Visual Materials Related to Interviews and Presentations

Series 8: Foreign-Language Editions

Custodial History

The Vivian Gussin Paley Papers were donated to the Strong as gifts of Vivian Gussin Paley. The papers were accessioned by the museum on May 2010, as Object IDs 110.3279 and 110.3280, July 2010, as Object ID 110.9428, and October 2010, as Object IDs 110.12195 and 110.12196.

Processed by

Doris C. Sturzenberger and Carol Sandler, 2010
Finding Aid to the Vivian Gussin Paley Papers, 1973-2010
Doris C. Sturzenberger
1 November 2010
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 25 April 2011: Transfer from MS Word to AT by J.F. Leach

Repository Details

Part of the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong Repository

The Strong
One Manhattan Square
Rochester NY 14607 USA
585.423.1886 (Fax)