Jill’s research focuses on the use of printed pastimes & teaching aids in early modern & nineteenth-century education, particularly for girls, & she has published & lectured extensively on educational ephemera.
She has been studying early children’s books & pastimes since 1975. A librarian with the Osborne Collection of Early Children’s Books from 1980 to 1996, she has since been an independent historian & bibliographer. Jill is currently a Senior Research Associate in Arts at Trinity College, University of Toronto & an Associate Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Play & Recreation, University of Greenwich.
Jill co-edited Educating the Child in Enlightenment Britain (2009) with Mary Hilton (Faculty of Education, Cambridge University) after they had organized a conference of the same name at Cambridge in 2005.
She also co-organized both the 2011 conference at Princeton University, ‘Enduring Trifles: Writing the History of Childhood with Ephemera’ with Andrea Immel, Curator, Cotsen Children’s Library, & ‘Rethinking the History of Childhood: Narratives, Sources, Debates’ with Mary Clare Martin (Centre for the Study of Play & Recreation, University of Greenwich), the latter held in 2012.
She has taught the Children’s Books course at the University of London Rare Books Summer School since 2008. She served as consultant, contributor & catalogue editor for the Grolier Club’s “One Hundred Books Famous in Children’s Literature” exhibition (New York, 2014-15) as well as serving as a member of the exhibition’s Advisory Committee. The catalogue of that exhibition was awarded the Katharine Kyes Leab & Daniel J. Leab “American Book Prices Current” Exhibition Award, Division One (Association of College & Research Libraries) Rare Books & Manuscripts Section & the F.J. Harvey Darton Award (Children’s Books History Society).
Her book, The Dartons: Publishers of Educational Aids, Pastimes & Juvenile Ephemera, 1787-1876 (2009), was awarded the Justin G. Schiller Prize (Bibliographical Society of America) & the F.J. Harvey Darton Award, (Children’s Books History Society). It was nominated for the Breslauer Prize for Bibliography (International League of Antiquarian Booksellers).
Jill has curated numerous exhibitions & authored several exhibition catalogues. She also has experience cataloguing private collections & indexing descriptive bibliographies.
She is currently engaged in a study of English ‘school pieces’ (c.1650-c.1850) & an examination of the practice of teaching children with pictures, focusing on an extraordinary & previously unknown watercolour manuscript (1719-20).