The decorative cover of a hardback book, green with a holly-like decorative border.

Mr. Kris Kringle, 1893

By Margaret Kaiser

It is Christmas eve, a Christmas with no presents and the loss of the family home, until a surprising visitor appears…

Mr. Kris Kringle is the charming and sentimental story of a young family reunited at Christmas through the intercession of a mysterious visitor.  It was written by Silas Weir Mitchell to benefit the Home of the Merciful Saviour for Crippled Children in Philadelphia.  Founded in 1882 by Helen Innes it was the first institution of its kind to provide, free of charge, care and support for crippled children.

An engraving of a woman slumped in a chair and two children sitting by a fireplace.
‘A silent group about the hearth,’ Mr. Kris Kringle: a Christmas Tale, 1893

Silas Weir Mitchell (1829–1914) was not only one of the leading American neurologists of his day but was also a successful novelist and poetMr. Kris Kringle was first printed in 1893.  The story was very popular and went through 12 editions of which the NLM holds several. This title, and several others are all part of a wonderful collection of books and periodical issues recently acquired by the Library related to the literary achievements of Mitchell. The collection comprises a group of 205 items primarily of Mitchell’s literary works and includes more than 50 inscribed copies as well as a number of variant states and editions which document the changes in styles and tastes of American publishing of the time.

In 1904 a new ‘reprinted and freshly illustrated’ edition was printed.  In a new foreword, Mitchell once again brought attention to the Home where there is “love and hope and play…” and asks for the readers’ monetary support, which becomes “peace and hope and happiness and food for the hungry and clothes and a home with security…” The Home is today known as HMS School for Children with Cerebral Palsy and continues its work of nurturing, educating, and caring for children with disabilities.

You can download and read the book Mr. Kris Kringle: A Christmas Tale in NLM Digital Collections.

Access to other editions and more works from this collection is provided through LocatorPlus, the Library’s online catalog.  For questions about these titles, including how to consult them, please contact the History of Medicine Division Reference staff at hmdref@nlm.nih.gov or (301) 402-8878.

Margaret Kaiser is Acquisitions Librarian for the Rare Books and Early Manuscripts Section in the History of Medicine Division at the National Library of Medicine.

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