RIIS, Jacob A.

Children of the People (original manuscript).

[New York: 1903] Stock Code: 146044
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Original signed manuscript by the major reformer

The original manuscript of Riis's short story "Children of the People", signed by the author at head in pencil, describing the ongoing suffering of children, as published in The Century Magazine for December 1903, and later collected, under the title "The City's Heart", in his 1915 story collection Neighbors: Life Stories of the Other Half.

The manuscript - around two thousand words - and displays the author's editorial process, with extensive corrections and edits to the text throughout, amending and omitting numerous words and sentences.

A muckraking journalist of enduring influence, Jacob Riis (1849-1914) had first explored child welfare reform in his 1892 work Children of the Poor. A lifelong campaigner for the rights of children, he protested crammed tenement blocks, promoting funds to take children into the countryside, advocating for city parks, and supporting more funding for public schools. His expositions of New York poverty and his years of campaigning helped bring about the reforms of the Progressive Era, and brought the conditions of the slums to much greater public awareness. At his death, Theodore Roosevelt called Riis "the staunchest, most efficient, friend the children of New York City have ever had" (cited in ANB).

Manuscripts of this sort by Riis are very uncommon on the market.

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9 page manuscript in black ink on blue-lined paper, written on rectos only, each leaf 25 x 20 cm.


Old paper-clip stain to first and last leaves, minor peripheral chips, including a shallow loss to bottom corner of the first two leaves with loss to a few letters, light toning and finger-soiling; overall a very well-preserved, highly readable manuscript.


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