Virginia Hamilton Conference, Records, 1983-[Ongoing]
Virginia Hamilton Conference records, 1983-2012
Prepared by Susan Walters, April 1995; Revised July 2012
2 record storage boxes. + 1 oversized folder, 2 cubic feet, 11th floor
The Virginia Hamilton Conference was established to provide a forum for the
discussion of cultural themes and issues in literature for children and young
adults. Appropriately, the conference honors Virginia Hamilton. The recipient
of nearly every major award and honor in her field, Virginia Hamilton was one
of today's most distinguished writers for children and young adults. Critic
Betsy Hearne wrote in Twentieth Century Children's Writers that Virginia
Hamilton "has heightened the standards for children's literature as few other
adults have, and Entertainment Weekly called her "a majestic presence
in children's literature.
Virginia Hamilton was the first African American woman to receive the coveted
Newbery Award for M.C. Higgins, the Great, for which she also received
the National Book Award and the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. Three other books,
The Planet of Junior Brown, Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush and In the
Beginning, a collection of creation myths from around the world, have been
named Newbery honor books. In addition, Ms. Hamilton was twice awarded
a Certificate of Honor by the International Board on Books for Young People,
and she received the Coretta Scott King Award four times.
In 1990, Ms Hamilton received both an honorary doctorate from the Bank Street
College of Education and the Regina Medal from the Catholic Library Association.
In 1992, she was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Author Award, which is
given by the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) to a living
author whose works have made a significant contribution to children's literature. She also became the first children's book author to be
awarded a "genius grant" as a fellow of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation. In 1996, she was the recipient of an NAACP Image Award for outstanding literary work and was awarded an honorary doctorate by Kent State University.
Virginia Hamilton was born into the flat, rural landscape of Ohio farm country,
where her mother's family had lived since the late 1850s when Hamilton's
grandfather, Levi Perry, escaped from slavery on the Underground Railroad. She received a scholarship to Antioch College in her hometown of Yellow Springs, Ohio, and then went on to The Ohio State University in Columbus and the New School for Social Research in New York.
She married author and poet Arnold Adoff in 1960, and they had two children--a daughter, Leigh and a son, Jaime. Virginia Hamilton died in February of 2002 after a 10-year battle with breast cancer.
Scope and Content
These materials have a mixed provenance. Early materials were gathered by Clara
Jackson. Additional materials were donated by board members Dan MacLachlan and
Ione Cowen. The Department has gathered up promotional material documenting
each year's conference as it has been available. Researchers will find material
documenting all major decisions undertaken by the Advisory Board within the
The collection has been organized into the following series:
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