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Behold this creepy and adorable 1911 book of captioned cat photos.

Emily Temple

August 9, 2021, 2:22pm

Over the weekend, the Public Domain Review pointed me towards a book that I think we can all agree was ahead of its time: the 1911 children’s book Kittens and Cats: A First Reader by Eulalie Osgood Grover, with photographs most likely by Harry Whittier Frees.

The story, such as it is, concerns a party being held by the Queen of all the Kittens, and introduces you to several cats who are planning to attend (or not). But the real draw, of course, are the pictures, which Grover apparently achieved with live subjects, and which come complete with sassy captions (as all cat photos should).

At the end of the book, Grover includes a “Word to the Teacher,” which presages the questions a teacher may have about any book—”Will this book give to my class of boys and girls a healthy stimulus of thought and pleasure? Will they receive through it valuable instruction and assistance in the mechanics of reading? Is the book sufficiently literary in style and artistic in form to command the respect and love of the children? Is it suggestive, dramatic, and ethically healthful?”—and humbly suggests that the answer is yes. You can read the whole book here and decide for yourself, or simply check out a few of the best photographs below.

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