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Rare Books

Rare Book Division
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08540
Curator of Rare Books

During the summer of 1996, a finding aid was prepared for the Peter J. Eckel Newsboy Collection. The Eckel collection consists of books, periodicals, newspapers, prints, advertisements, pamphlets, government documents, sheet music, carrier's addresses, photographs, slides, scrapbooks, badges, statutes, as well as files of notes and clippings all relating to newsboys in America ca. 1800 to the late 20th century. Bulk: about 30 shelves of books, boxes and other containers.

All printed books in this collection are now recorded individually in the Library's main catalog. The bulk of the books are by Horatio Alger, who patterned the heroes of his books after the homeless newsboys and "street Arabs" he saw in New York city. His juvenile novels emphasized hard work and perseverance as the road to success. The books in this collection are in original publisher's bindings.

Peter J. Eckel was for 32 years an award-winning photographer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He grew up in Jersey City during the Depression. For more than 35 years he both collected and privately studied the phenomenon of the newsboy in the United States. In addition, to the material listed about he also compiled files of data which he organized into folders. He lived in South Plainfield, NJ. He died in an automobile accident on May 19, 1994. Princeton acquired the collection in December 1995 from his widow. [Sources: Newark Star Ledger article 'Start Spreading the News,' published 29 December 1994. Also correspondence in curatorial documentary files.]

See the Princeton PhD dissertation (1997) based on this collection: Vincent DiGirolamo, Crying the news: street work, and the American press, 1830s-1920s [(ReCAP) PRIN 685 1997 .3003 or (Mudd) PRIN 685 1997 .3003]. According to Prof. DiGirolamo, "the impetus behind Eckel's newsboy collection was his devotion to Father John C. Drumgoole, director of St. Vincent's Newsboys Home in New York City in the 1870s. Drumgoole went on to found the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin, which erected a ten-story orphanage on Great Jones Street in New York and the sprawling Mount Loretto home for dependent children in Staten Island. These were among the largest child welfare institutions in the United States. Father Drumgoole died while on his rounds during the Great Blizzard of 1888. Peter [Eckel] always thought Father Drumgoole merited sainthood and greater public recognition. He was instrumental in having a little park near the Brooklyn Bridge named after Father Drumgoole."

See also the Collections File under the heading Newsboys