The Acquisitions Table: The History of Little Red Riding Hood

The History of Little Red Riding Hood. Binghamton, NY: J. & C. Orton, 1840.

This is a classic example of a popular folk tale issued by a fairly obscure regional publisher, J. & C. Orton. Active ca. 1840-1841, the firm is represented in the AAS collections by fewer than a handful of imprints, all of them children’s books. We all know that little Red was attacked by the wolf, but it is easy to forget that her Grandma was attacked first. The text is incredibly blunt, “[H]e tore her to pieces, Oh! Merciless beast, To make of a poor harmless lady a feast.” Books like this one provide today’s researcher with valuable insight into the cultural connections between harmlessness, helplessness, gender, and age found in 19th-century American print culture. The back cover has a publisher’s advertisement listing several titles that are yet to be acquired—a curatorial shopping list!

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