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Stan and Jan Berenstain papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 2013.berenstain
The Stan and Jan Berenstain papers contain materials from 1949 through 2006, with the bulk of the documents from 1962 to 1983. This collection comprises sketches, notes, scripts, storyboards, publisher proofs, advertisements, manuscripts, correspondence, and other artwork created by Stan and Jan Berenstain. Much of the content of this collection relates to the Berenstains’ long-running magazine cartoon feature, It’s All in the Family¸ as well as their enormously popular book series, The Berenstain Bears. Also significant are the published advertisements illustrated by the Berenstains during the early part of their careers together. Additional scope and content information is listed for each series or subseries under the “Contents List” section of this finding aid.

The Stan and Jan Berenstain papers are arranged into seven series, two of which are further divided into subseries. The materials are housed in eight archival document boxes and two oversized flat folders.


  • 1949 - 2006
  • Majority of material found within 1962 - 1983


Conditions Governing Use

This collection is open for research use by staff of The Strong and by users of its library and archives. Though the donor has not transferred intellectual property rights (including, but not limited to any copyright, trademark, and associated rights therein) to The Strong, he has given permission for The Strong to make copies in all media for museum, educational, and research purposes.


7.5 Linear Feet (8 boxes, 2 oversized folders)


The Stan and Jan Berenstain papers are a compilation of sketches, notes, storyboards, publisher proofs, advertisements, manuscripts, correspondence, and other artwork created by Stan and Jan Berenstain. The bulk of the materials are from between 1962 and 1983.

Biographical Note

Stan and Jan Berenstain were American illustrators and writers, best known for their long-running children’s book series The Berenstain Bears.

Stanley Berenstain and Janice Grant were both born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They met at the Philadelphia Museum School for Industrial Art (now called the University of the Arts) on their first day of class in 1941. During World War II, Stanley served as a medical illustrator for the United States Army, while Janice worked as both an aircraft riveter and a draft artist for the Army Corps of Engineers. Stanley and Janice wed in 1946 and began their careers together as magazine cartoonists. Their artwork appeared in popular magazines such as Collier’s, McCall’s, and The Saturday Evening Post. They soon added drawing advertisements for major American companies to their repertoire. After the births of their two sons, the Berenstains published a humor book on parenting, called The Berenstains’ Baby Book. They went on to use family humor as the basis for dozens of other satirical advice books, as well as for their magazine cartoon feature It’s All in the Family.

The Berenstain Bears first appeared in 1962’s The Big Honey Hunt, under the editorship of Theodor Geisel. At that time, Geisel advised the Berenstains to shorten their byline to the now-familiar “Stan and Jan Berenstain.” (Geisel also coined the term “The Berenstain Bears.”) Over the next four decades, the duo authored more than two hundred Berenstain Bears books, often based on real-life experiences of Berenstain family members. Other platforms for the Berenstain Bears have included animated television series, video games, plush toys, and other merchandise. In the 1980s, Mike Berenstain joined his parents in drawing the series.

In 2002, the Berenstains released their joint memoir, entitled Down a Sunny Dirt Road. Stan passed away in November 2005, and Jan died in February 2012. The Berenstains’ legacy lives on through their popular stories, distinctive illustrations, and memorable characters.

System of Arrangement

Series I: It’s All in the Family, 1958-1987

Subseries A: Sketches
Subseries B: Storyboards
Subseries C: Published cartoon features
Subseries D: Merchandise

Series II: The Berenstain Bears, 1977-2006

Subseries A: Sketches
Subseries B: Storyboards and scripts
Subseries C: Proofs
Subseries D: Advertisements
Subseries E: Merchandise

Series III: Advertisements, 1949-1960s

Series IV: Other illustrations/publications, 1949-1971

Series V: Manuscripts, c. 1960s-1970s

Series VI: Correspondence, 1965-1995

Series VII: Publicity, c. 1950s-1964

Custodial History

The Stan and Jan Berenstain papers were donated to The Strong in November 2010 as a gift from Michael Berenstain. The papers were accessioned by The Strong under Object ID 110.13288. They were received from Michael Berenstain in eight linear feet of boxes, along with a significant donation containing toys, games, books, and other Berenstain-related merchandise.

Related Collections

The Strong holds a large collection of Berenstain Bear-related toys, games, and books within both the National Museum of Play and the Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play. Berenstain Bears: Down a Sunny Dirt Road has been a permanent exhibit at The Strong since 2008.



Finding Aid to the Stan and Jan Berenstain Papers, 1949-2006
Julia Novakovic
19 August 2013
Description rules

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)