Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005

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Elizabeth Orton Jones (1910-2005) was an American illustrator and writer of children's books.

From the description of Oral memoirs of Elizabeth Orton Jones, 2004. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 700516954

American illustrator and author of children's books; recipient ofa Caldecott Honor for Small Rain in 1944, and winner of the Caldecott Medal forPrayer for a Child in 1945.

From the description of A prayer for little things : production material, [1945?]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62494606

American illustrator and author of children's books; recipient ofa Caldecott Honor for Small Rain in 1944, and winner of the Caldecott Medal for Prayer for a Child in 1945.

From the description of What Miranda knew : production material, [1944?]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62451470

From the description of This is the way : prayers and precepts from world religions : production material, [1951?]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62451469

American illustrator and author of children's books; recipient of a Caldecott Honor for Small Rain in 1944, and winner of the Caldecott Medal for Prayer for a Child in 1945.

From the description of Lullaby for eggs : a poem : production material, [1955?]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62451468

From the description of Papers, 1944-1955. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62451467

From the description of Prayer for a child : production material, [1944?]. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62443761

Author and illustrator of children's books.

From the description of Papers, 1913-1980. (University of Oregon Libraries). WorldCat record id: 42033589

Oral history interview

Linda Long, Dorothy Knaus, and Hannah Dillon conducted an oral history interview of children's book illustrator and writer Elizabeth Orton Jones in the fall of 2004. The interview was done in Jones' house "Rock-a-Bye" in Mason, New Hampshire. The interviews were done over a three day period, November 28 through November 30.

The interviews were recorded on audio cassette tapes and MiniDV video cassette tapes. Not all parts of the audio recordings are represented on the video recordings due to the fact that on a couple of occasions Jones and the interviewers moved from one room to another and the video camera on its tripod was not moved.

Elizabeth Orton Jones

Born June 25, 1910, in Highland Park, Illinois, Elizabeth Orton Jones was the oldest of three children of Jessie Orton Jones and George Roberts Jones. She majored in art at the University of Chicago and at the Art Institute of Chicago, receiving her Ph.B. in 1932. The same year she acquired a Diplôme in painting at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Fontainebleau, France. In Paris she studied with artist Camille Liausu, who encouraged her to go out and study the children of Paris. When Jones returned to the United States, she had a one-person exhibit of color etchings of children at the Smithsonian Institution.

In 1938 Oxford University Press published Jones’s first book, Ragman of Paris and His Ragamuffins . Even before this book was finished she knew that making books for children was what she wanted to do above all else. She stated, “A very strong sense of responsibility to what children are as individuals in their own right became firmly established as an imperative in my life.”

In the spring of 1940 Jones worked on illustrations for Maminka's Children (published by the Macmillan Company in 1940) with printers Lillian and William Glaser in Long Island City, New York. The story was inspired by Jones’s close friendship with three young Bohemian women who worked for her family when she was a child in Highland Park.

Author of seven books and illustrator of sixteen others, Jones was runner-up for the Caldecott Medal in 1943 for Small Rain: Verses from the Bible, one of four books done in collaboration with her mother, Jessie Orton Jones. She won the Caldecott Medal in 1945 for Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field. Upon winning this prestigious award given annually by the American Library Association for the best-illustrated children's book, Jones commented, “Drawing is very like a prayer. Drawing is a reaching for something away beyond you. As you sit down to work in the morning, you feel as if you were on top of a hill. And it is as if you were seeing for the first time. You take your pencil in hand. You'd like to draw what you see. And so you begin. You try…. Every child in the world has a hill, with a top to it. Every child-black, white, rich, poor, handicapped, unhandicapped. And singing is what the top of each hill is for. Singing-drawing-thinking-dreaming-sitting in silence . . . saying a prayer. I should like every child in the world to know that he has a hill, that that hill is his no matter what happens, his and his only, forever.”

With the first royalty check for Twig (Macmillan, 1942) Jones bought a house in Mason, New Hampshire. She and fellow artist Nora Unwin painted murals for the walls at Crotched Mountain Center in Greenfield, New Hampshire. Jones became involved with children with disabilities at Crotched Mountain and for years spent many hours with them. She also helped establish a children’s room at the Mason City Library and painted child-size furniture with brightly colored designs inspired by Bohemian folk art.

Early in the 1960s Jones and a group of teachers started Andy’s Summer theater, run by and for children. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s she wrote plays and designed sets and costumes for the plays.

An artist of many years standing in etching, printing, pastel, water color, gouache, graphite, ink and oil, Jones won numerous awards and had many distinguished exhibits.

Elizabeth Orton Jones died at the age of 94, on May 13, 2005, at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

From the guide to the Oral Memoirs of Elizabeth Orton Jones, 2004, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Born June 25, 1910 ("half past Christmas," as she liked to say) in Highland Park, Illinois, Elizabeth Orton Jones was the daughter of George Roberts and Jessie Mae Orton Jones. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 1932 and continued her education a the Ecole de beaux Arts, Fontainebleau, France, and the Art Institute of chicago.

During the 1930s, Jones achieved a substantial reputation as the creator fo excellelnt dry-point etchings of children. At the same time, she began two long and successful careers in the design of greeting-cards and the production of painted woodenware.

In 1938, Oxford University Press brought out Jones' first book Ragman of Paris . Author of eight books and illustrator of fourteen others, she was runner-up for the Caldecott Medal (awarded each year by the American Library Association to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children)in 1943 for Small Rain: Verses from the Bible, edited by her mother, Jessie Orton Jones. She won the Caldecott Medal in 1945 for Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field. In her acceptance speech, she said: "Drawing is very like a prayer. Drawing is a reaching fro something away beyond you. As you sit down to work in the morning, you feel as if you were on top of a hill. And it is as if you were seeing for the first time."

The success of her work during the 1930s and the 1940s enabled Jones to buy a house in Mason, New Hampshire. She then devoted her energy and talents to whatever interested her without concern for financial rewards. Jones painted a large mural at Crotched Mountain center, in Greenfield, New Hampshire, and another for the University of New Hampshire Library. Her interest in the Mason City Library and her work in redecorating and in furshing it's Children's Room led to the Library's award of a grant in recognition of its originality. Her trompe l'oeil drawings on the furniture are particularly _______________________. She also taught classes at the local school for a number of years.

Early in the 1060s, she was one of a local group of creative and energetic teachers who started Andy's Summer Theater, an enterprise run by and for children. Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, Elizabeth Orton Jones was busy writing children's plays which have proven to be highly successful. She also designed and made costumes and scenery for those plays.

Elizabeth Orton Jones and her mother worked together on the book This is the Way, about different religions and the common ground they share. Jones’ famous work, Twig, was inspired by a girl she caught sight of while riding on the El train in Chicago.

Although she had no children of her own, she was a lively member of her Mason community and did numerous readings and book signings. Jones almost single-handedly set up the library for children in Mason in 1960, at a time when children’s literature was not taken seriously.

Her collaborators include: Gladys Adshead ( Brownies-Hush!, What Miranda Knew ); Betty Bridgeman ( Lullaby for Eggs ); and Rachel Field ( Prayer for a Child ).

Jones was also an accomplished classical artist; she studied with Camille Liausu in Paris, and took classes in abstract art and painting in New Hampshire.

Jones illustrated Little Red Riding Hood for the Little Golden Books series. In the story the grandmother’s house was modeled after Jones’ own house in Mason, and the wolf’s house was modeled after another local house, now a restaurant called Pickity Place. Jones had two houses in Mason, one named Misty Meadow and the other named Rock-A-Bye.

In her acceptance speech for the Caldecott Medal Jones defined her idea of an artist: “I think of being an artist as an achievement I may work toward my whole life and even then not arrive. Though, I would like to be able to say, right out loud to myself on the morning of my 99th birthday, ‘Old girl, you are an artist.’”

Elizabeth Orton Jones died at the age of 94, on May 13, 2005, at Monadnock Community Hospital in Peterborough, New Hampshire.

From the guide to the Elizabeth Orton Jones papers, 1913-1980, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Elizabeth Orton Jones Papers, 1944-1955 University of Minnesota Libraries Children's Literature Research Collections [clrc]
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. What Miranda knew : production material, [1944?]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Blos, Joan W. Papers of the Melcher family [manuscript] 1785-1987. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. This is the way : prayers and precepts from world religions : production material, [1951?]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. Papers, 1913-1980. University of Oregon Libraries, UO Libraries
creatorOf Oral Memoirs of Elizabeth Orton Jones, 2004 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. A prayer for little things : production material, [1945?]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. Lullaby for eggs : a poem : production material, [1955?]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. Oral memoirs of Elizabeth Orton Jones, 2004. University of Oregon Libraries, UO Libraries
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. Prayer for a child : production material, [1944?]. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Jones, Elizabeth Orton, 1910-2005. Papers, 1944-1955. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
referencedIn Hunt, Mabel Leigh, 1892-1971. Papers, 1941-1966. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
creatorOf Elizabeth Orton Jones papers, 1913-1980 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adshead, Gladys L. person
associatedWith Bridgman, Elizabeth Klein, 1915- person
associatedWith Crotched Mountain (Rehabilitation center) corporateBody
associatedWith Dillon, Hannah person
associatedWith Dillon, Hannah. person
associatedWith Farjeon, Eleanor, 1881-1965 person
associatedWith Field, Rachel, 1894-1942 person
correspondedWith Hunt, Mabel Leigh, 1892-1971. person
associatedWith Jones, Jesse Orton. person
associatedWith Jones, Jessie Orton person
associatedWith Jones, Jessie Orton. person
associatedWith Knaus, Dorothy person
associatedWith Knaus, Dorothy. person
associatedWith Long, Linda, 1956- person
associatedWith McGreal, William. person
associatedWith Stoltenberg, Donald. person
associatedWith Unwin, Nora S. (Nora Spicer), 1907-1982. person
associatedWith Yates, Elizabeth, 1905-2001. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Women authors, American--20th century--Interviews
Religious literature--Collections
Illustrated children's books--United States
Women illustrators--Interviews
Women
Children's literature
Children's literature, American--Authorship
Birds--Eggs--Juvenile poetry
Fine Arts
Crotched Mountain (Rehabilitation center)
Literature
Publishers and Publishing
Cats--Fiction
Birds--Eggs--Poetry
Illustrated children's books
Angels--Fiction
Cats--Juvenile fiction
Angels--Juvenile fiction
Children--Prayer-books and devotions--English
Women illustrators--United States--Interviews
Children's literature, American
Prayer
Occupation
Illustrator
Function

Person

Birth 1910-06-25

Death 2005-05-10

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