The following list of archives was compiled over two years of research into women’s dime novels. The comments are based on personal visits to over half of these archives and published archive descriptions.
Brandies University Library, Special Collections
Collection of dime novel literature, primarily focusing on publications on men and boys. Women’s materials include: Bertha M. Clay Series, 55 titles; Daisy Library by Street & Smith (This may be a girls series), 2 titles; Eagle Library, 43 titles; Eagle Series, 84 titles; Hart Series, 57 titles; Laura Series, 2 titles; Love Story Library, 20 titles; My Queen, Numbers 1 & 2; New Bertha Clay Library, approximately 100 titles; New Eagle Series approximately 200 titles; New Romance Library (Street & Smith) 2 titles; and the Waverly Library, approximately 14 titles. A complete list of the collection is available on line.
Delaware, University of
In relation to their collecting interests in the history of publishing, the Special Collections Department has a small collection, The Beadle & Adams Archive, pertaining primarily to Erastus Beadle of the dime novel publishers Beadle & Adams. I have used this collection and found it of limited interest to the study of women’s dime novels. They also have the Charles Humberd Dime Novel Collectionwhich is a small collection of about eight items, several items relating to the work of Charles Bragin and several dime novels.
The Special Collections Department has holdings on nineteenth-century American women’s writing. It is not a dime novel collection per se, but they do have papers for three writers whose work was often reprinted in dime novel format–Mary E. Braddon, Eliza Dupuy, and E.D.E.N. Southworth. I have not visited this collection and cannot say how extensive the collections of papers are, but the library does have a solid number of Braddon’s, Dupuy’s, and Southworth’s published works. For those working in on the twentieth century, they also have holdings on lesbian pulp fiction.
Huntington Library Collection
The Beadle & Adams Collection contains about 3,000 titles. It is almost exclusively devoted to men’s and boy’s publications. The general fiction holdings are a better bet for researchers interested in women’s dime novels. The general rare book fiction holdings contain dime novel authors whose work was republished by non-dime novel publishers. As of August 2001, the Huntington does not have their computerized databases of their holdings on line yet, though finding aids are on-line. For specific information about the holdings contact the Library.
Library of Congress
The Library of Congress’ Dime Novel Collection is one of the largest dime novel collections in the country. It is estimated to contain over 40,000 titles, representing over 280 series. The collection was obtained through copyright deposits. It is not well catalogued, but the excellent staff is well-versed in the collection and willing to work with researchers.
Examples of the publishers represented include Beadle & Adams, Street & Smith, Frank Tousey, George Munro, and Norman Munro. The Library has microfilmed 29 series to make them available to the public outside the library. Unfortunately for researchers interested women’s dime novel fiction, none of the series selected are specifically for women. Microfilmed series include Beadles’ Dime Library, Murno’s Old Sleuth Library, The Liberty Boys of ’76,Diamond Dick Series, and the New York Detective Library. The Library also has a online exhibit about dime novels.
Michigan, University of, Russell Nye Collection
The Russell Nye Popular Culture Collection is weak on women’s holdings in the nineteenth century. For women’s publications it is better on twentieth-century women’s items, such as Love Story Magazine. Nineteenth-century holdings include Beadle’s Frontier Series, Deadwood Dick series, andArgosy Magazine.
Minnesota, University of, Hess Collection
Although I haven’t had a chance to visit the Hess Collection yet, it is reputed to be one of the better dime novel collections in the country. It is based on the collection of George Hess and contains Beadleís Dime Novels, The Boys of New York, The Seaside Library, and Alger Series Books. It also has Big Little Books, my favorite books from my parent’s library when I was a kid.
New York Public Library, Frank O’Brien Dime Novel Collection
This collection of about 1,400 dime novels was put together by the private collector, Dr. Frank P. O’Brien. He dominated it tot he the Library in 1922. Unfortunately for researchers interested in women’s dime novels it is very weak on women’s authors, though they do have Beadle’s women’s series Girls of Today (1875) and Belles and Beaux (1874). Other related collections at the New York Public Library include the travel diaries of Laura Jean Libbey and the papers of story paper publishers Robert Bonner. In addition to books, the library has collected some unusual dime novel memorabilia, such as an original street sign for the firm Beadle & Adams, extensive records of Erastus Beadle’s genealogical investigations and his journal from a trip to Nebraska in 1857.
New York University, Levy Feminine Writers Collection
This is a great collection of women’s popular writing in the nineteenth century. It is truly a hidden gem. Dr. Levy is the only “cheap fiction” collector I am aware who took the women’s publications as seriously as the men’s and made it a particular mission to collect and preserve it in significant numbers. It also contains the papers of dime novel collectors Adimari and Benners. The content of the Levy Collection is online via this finding aid. Researchers can also contact the staff of the special collections department for additional information.
Northern Illinois University, Albert Johannson Dime Novel Collection
The primary attraction here is the Albert Johannson Dime Novel Collection of 50,000 volumes! It is a wonderful collection of dime novels and Johannson’s papers. In addition to their excellent holdings, NUI offers the Horatio Alger Fellowship for the Study of Popular Culture to scholars wishing to make use of the collection. though Johannson did not focus on women’s works in particular, he did aim to collect every item every published by the firm of Beadle and Adams. Thus, his collection is so extensive many women’s titles, such as The Waverly Library, are well represented.
Oberlian College, The Walter F. Tunks Collection,
Walter F. Tunks Dime Novel Collection consists of approximately 4000 items. Over 200 different American serial titles are represented along with several French, British and German titles. There are also items such as newspaper clippings, articles, bibliographies and correspondence collected by Tunks that may be of interest to collectors and scholars. I have not been able to visit this collection yet, but based on their finding aids it seems this collection is primarily men’s dime novels, though they do list several items from the My Queen series. Items from this series are extremely rare.
Stanford University, Dime Novel and Story Paper Collection
Stanford’s Dime Novel and Story Paper Collection contains approximately 8,000 volumes. Sample titles include Frank Leslie’s Boys of America, Good News, Beadles New York Dime Library, and Old Sleuth Weekly. Stanford University was one of the first to give dime novels a strong presence on the web and their site is still one of the best ones on the subject.
[A thorough review of the Stanford website by Cheryl Lemus available here.]
State University of New York, Buffalo, Kelley Collection
The Kelley Paperback and Pulp Fiction Collection is a relatively new collection. The focus is on pulp fiction after World War II. The collection was put together by Dr. George Kelley who collected thousands of titles, over 25,000, from the 1940s to the 1980s. The focus is on detective and mystery stories.
Syracuse University, Street and Smith Collection
The Street & Smith collection contains business papers from the dime novel publisher, Street and Smith. The focus is on radio manuscripts (one-third of the collection), unpublished manuscripts, i.e. rejects Street & Smith did not use, and limited business records. The business records are primarily the 3 x 5 notes cards used by the firm to track each manuscript. Each card includes specific information about each story, such as which series it was published in, the original title and any title changes in later reprints, the author’s name with pen names, and the amount paid for the story. The cards do not include editorial remarks and the collection in general only has an occasional reader report.
University Microfilm Collection
This microfilm project, has several thousand full text novels. It is based on Minnesota’s Hess Collection. This microfilm collection is not useful for those interested in women’s dime novels since it contains very few dime novels for or about women. I reviewed the index thoroughly and found only about one dozen titles of interest to scholars of women’s dime novels.
Yale University/ Beadle Collection
According to a manuscript collections reference, this collection contains about 3,000 volumes. Titles include theGimble Collection of Science Fiction Dime Novels. It may have Weekly Library for Young Girls though I have not visited this collection yet. I found this reference in a printed guide to collections. I have not been able to find more detailed information about the collection at either the Yale University Library web site or Special Collections web site. Additional information may be available by contacting theLibrary’s Special Collections Committee.