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The Helene Whitson Collection is the generous gift of Helene Whitson, librarian, archivist, chorister, musical group leader, and passionate collector of children's literature.
Librarian and Archivist at San Francisco State University for nearly 40 years, Helene Whitson worked to document and preserve SFSU's campus history, particularly related to the student strike of 1968-69. She was also responsible for building the San Francisco Bay Area Television Archives, which preserves Northern California's broadcasting history, and as head of special collections, supervised the curator of the Marguerite Archer Collection of Historic Children's Books at SFSU.
In addition to her numerous professional accomplishments, Helene Whitson is a skilled musician whose activities include performing with the San Francisco Lyric Chorus, which she has also served as President, as well as the Arch Street Irregulars, an informal a cappella ensemble.
An avid book collector, Helene Whitson's special interest has been children's books, including unique formats such as pop-up books and books with movable parts. Her collecting philosophy has been ever guided by her dedication to the notion of "childness," as defined by the eminent children's author Tomie De Paola:
"In all the people who interest me there is a substance I call childness. Some adults have it, some children do not. Childness is that part of us which seems to come from our marrow, which lets us do what we want to do no matter how it looks or who is looking. I believe that in our childness our originality and our possibilities are rooted."