Dinny Culican Ward details how the collection began
The Culican Children's Book Collection is located in the Raheen Library at Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy, Melbourne.
Dear Sir or Madam,
As Senior Lecturer and Head of the Department of English Literature and Language between 1971 and 1984 at Christ College, I was able to use a large portion of my departmental budget to purchase the bulk of the collection from a bookseller of antiquarian children's books.
I was already writing my M. Ed. thesis on 18th century children's literature and decided to build up a historic collection in our Christ College Library. At that time, there was little interest in the historical significance of such works, largely because of the racism, sexism, imperialism and general intolerance that characterised such writing, and to which Sullivan makes reference.
I made a plea to our Catholic primary schools for early works such as those by Mary Grant Bruce, Ethel Turner, and others, and received a great response. In many cases, it rescued them from extinction!
Sullivan's article highlights A Mother's Offering to Her Children which is, I believe, the most valuable item in the collection. Written anonymously by English governess Charlotte Barton in 1841, it is the earliest example of an Australian book for children. In 1996, Catholic Church Insurances (CCI) gave a generous grant for the maintenance of the collection.
As a result of my own research, I published an article, Charlotte Barton. Australia's First Writer for Children in the journal Margin: Life and Letters of Early Australia, No. 55, November 2001, and followed it up later with a paper delivered at the Australian Literature Conference at Charles Sturt University, which was entitled Rousseau Comes to Ulladulla.
My husband's sudden death caused my resignation from Christ College but I retain a keen interest in the Collection and continue to donate books to it. Consequently, it gives me great satisfaction and delight to see the University promoting this important study of early children's literature.