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Venezky Collection

The Richard L. Venezky Collection of Books for Literacy Instruction

Richard L. Venezky was a leading expert in the history of literacy and reading. "His interests ranged from orthography to pedagogy, from adult literacy to computer-assisted instruction, from the relationship between literacy and political participation to the history of spelling and reading instructional texts." ("Obituary" in History of Reading News, vol. 28, no. 1, Fall 2004)

The Venezky Collection contains primers and readers published between the end of the eighteenth century through the early decades of the twentieth century. Many titles are present in nearly every edition issued. In addition, there are early pamphlets, chapbooks, primers, almanacs, dictionaries, children's stories, plus works on penmanship, spelling, and phonetics.

Most of the works in this collection are in Special Collections, but the large microfiche collection American Primers (MFICHE 2980) with its guide containing a lengthy essay by Venezky can be found in Cubberley's microtext collection.

Some of the collection was featured in the exhibit American Primers and Readers featuring the words and collections of Richard L Venezky in Green Library during Fall, 2008. An online version of the American Primers and Readers exhibit, featuring richly-detailed photographs and scans of items from the Venezky Collection, is available at

See a list of items in this collection in Socrates and instructions for how to request items from Special Collections.

See also an article in the Reading Primers International Newsletter by Dr. Robert Calfee.