Archives On The Air 47: Oz Or America; Children's Books And American History—Toppan Rare Books

Aug 23, 2018

Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz, By Ruth Plumly Thompson. Illustrated by John R. Neil. 1919. Toppan Rare Books Library.
Credit American Heritage Center

Dorothy, Toto, the Witch of the West, and the infamous red slippers all come to mind when you think of L. Frank Baum’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

Yet these characters merely served as an introduction to the dynamic land of Oz. Baum wrote 14 Oz books between 1900 and 1919.

Some of his books detailed Dorothy’s ongoing adventures.

The Gnome King of Oz, by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Illustrated by John R. Neil. 1927. Toppan Rare Books Library.
Credit American Heritage Center

But his later books focused on other characters like the tin man, and the scarecrow; placing them in their own unique adventures with new characters like Jack Pumpkinhead and the evil Gnome King.

Each book came with beautiful color illustrations by John R. Neil and W.W. Denslow paralleling the culture of the Progressive Era with clothes and styles.

Detailed illustrations include an industrious tin man, the rural ambiance of the scarecrow, and the wealth of the Oz empire. The drawings provide a fantastical mirror into the early 20th century.

The Toppan Rare Books Library in UW’s American Heritage Center has over 36 titles related to Oz available by appointment for research or viewing.