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Franklyn M. Branley Papers

Identifier: DG0112

Scope and Contents

The Franklyn M. Branley Papers contain typescripts, galleys, dummies, or blues for twenty-one books written between 1980 and 1988. The material is organized into a single series for books. The papers are arranged alphabetically by title and chronologically in order of creation.

Branley is perhaps best noted as founder and coeditor of the "Lets-Read-and-Find-Out-About-Science" book series. The Franklyn M. Branley Papers include typescripts, galleys, front matter, dust jacket material, or blues for nine titles within that series.

The papers contain typescripts, galleys, front matter, or dust jacket material for twelve junior level science books, including four titles from Branley's "Voyage Into Space" series. Interesting are the revisions to his book From Sputnik to Space Shuttles (1986). Originally titled From Sputnik to Space Challenger, the book was in the final processing stages when the Challenger space shuttle exploded. The book title was changed and Branley wrote a brief dedication to the space shuttle crew, the only book in these papers to include a dedication.


  • 1981-1987

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; available for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Franklyn Mansfield Branley was born in New Rochelle, New York in 1915. He received degrees from New York University, the State University of New York at Paltz, and Columbia University. In the mid-1930s, as Branley began his elementary and secondary school teaching career, science education for children was a new venture. Only a few course materials existed to explain science to children, and many instructors did not teach it at all. Branley coauthored a teaching pamphlet for elementary science instruction and began his career writing for professional journals and children's magazines.

Branley regretted that many schools waited until junior years to teach science to children who had already become "cynical sophisticates." He instead promoted the idea of exposing children as young as preschool age to the excitement of science, believing younger children more capable of grasping scientific principles than people gave them credit for. Between 1947 and 1957 Branley coauthored nine "experiment series" books, designed to allow children to use common household objects to learn about topics as diverse as airplane instruction, microscopes, optical illusions, and electricity.

In 1956 Branley became an associate astronomer and director of the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium in New York City. His books immediately began to focus more on astronomy and the newly developing space frontier. Interestingly, his first work in these fields, Exploring by Satellite (1957), was published one day after the Soviet Union launched its Sputnik satellite.

In the 1960s, Branley founded and co-edited the "Lets-Read-and-Find-Out-About-Science" books, a highly successful series explaining scientific principles to early readers. Branley also received many literary awards, including the Edison Award for the Outstanding Children's Science Book of 1961, Experiments in Sky Watching. Branley went on to author over two hundred books, the last of which was published in 2002. He married his college sweetheart, Margaret Lemon, and they had two daughters.

Franklyn Branley passed away in May 2002 at the age of 86.


Something About the Author, v. 4, pp. 32-34

Major Authors and Illustrators for Children and Young Adults, v. 1, pp. 302-306

Children's Books and Their Creators, pp. 78-79


3.0 Cubic Feet (9 boxes)

Language of Materials



Franklyn M. Branley, Astronomer Emeritus and former Chairman of the American Museum-Hayden Planetarium, authored more than one hundred books about astronomy and other sciences for people of all ages. The Franklyn M. Branley Papers contain typescripts, galleys, dummies, or blues for twenty-one books written between 1980 and 1988.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries by Franklyn M. Branley between 1983 and 1992.

Related Materials

For original illustrations from Dinosaurs, Asteroids, and Superstars, see the Jean Zallinger Papers (DG1084). Illustrations for four Branley books not represented in these papers are found in the Ethel and Leonard Kessler Papers (DG0547).
Franklyn M. Branley Papers
In Progress
Cheri Alder
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This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001