Stanford's Holdings and
Other Major Dime Novel Collections


The foundation of Stanford's collection of dime novels, story papers and related material was originally the property of P.J. Moran, an Oakland postal inspector and longtime dime novel enthusiast. Moran amassed over four thousand boys papers and novels and over three thousand story papers dating from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries--all of which he stored in the attic of his home. All told, the collection comprises roughly eight thousand items, making it one of the largest acquisitions of dime novels in recent decades.

  More specifically, the collection consists of long runs of popular titles such as Frank Leslie's Boys of America, Good News, Beadle's New York Dime Library and Old Sleuth Weekly. These holdings have been augmented by the subsequent purchase of several thousand nickel weeklies featuring long runs of Liberty Boys of 76, Secret Service, Brave and Bold, and Tip Top Weekly. There is, in addition, a strong collection of British titles that includes many "Penny Dreadfuls" or "Shilling Shockers," which are the British counterpart of the dime novel. British titles with extensive runs include The Boy's World, Young Men of Great Britain, and Boys of England. A selection of Young Folks features fifteen of the seventeen issues with installments of "The Black Arrow" written by Robert Lewis Stevenson under the pseudonym of Captain George North.
  Many of the major dime novel collections now in research libraries were amassed by collectors such as Moran. Although small in number, these collectors were instrumental in preserving the fragile paper collectibles and in creating inventories and indexes to the vast corpus of dime novel literature. Dr. Frank P. O'Brien was another such collector, who gifted his important collection of Beadle and Adams dime novels to the New York Public Library in the early part of this century. The O'Brien archive contains roughly fifteen hundred Beadle publications, along with original manuscripts, copyrights, miscellaneous accounts and notes, and personal correspondence between O'Brien and dime novel authors. The University of Minnesota owes the existence of its collection to George Hess, a founding member of the Dime Novel Club, whose donation includes many Beadle and Adams publications. A good number of these publications were filmed by University Microfilms International (UMI) in 1981 and are now available to the public. UMI also microfilmed The Deadwood Dick series from Michigan State University, which houses a vast archive of dime novels and story papers in its Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection. Among the most extensive dime novel collections is the Albert Johannsen collection housed at Northern Illinois University. Johannsen authored the standard reference work on Beadle's Dime novels, The House of Beadle and Adams and its Dime and Nickel Novels, which was published in two volumes in 1950.
  Other large general collections include the Library of Congress , whose copyright deposit rule was instrumental in creating a comprehensive archive. New York University's Division of Special Collections houses a collection of roughly fifteen thousand items of American nineteenth and early twentieth century popular literature. The archive contains the records of editor Ralph Adimari who carried out extensive research on the dime novel (autographs, clippings, notebooks, manuscripts, photos, and miscellaneous memorabilia). The Popular Culture Library at Bowling Green State University boasts an archive of nearly two thousand dime novels, story papers, and nickel weeklies, with a heavy concentration of Tip Top Weekly. In conjunction with this collection, the Bowling Green University Popular Press has issued a comprehensive subject index of the longstanding, popular journal, Dime Novel Roundup, as well as several books on specific genres such as The Dime Novel Western (1978) and The Dime Novel Detective (1982).
  Among the more specialized collections are the Street and Smith Publishing Company Archives at Syracuse University. The Syracuse web site provides periodic updates on the university's ongoing project to microfilm, catalogue, and conserve the publishers' archives. Yale University is home to the Gimbel Collection of Science Fiction Dime Novels, which includes the Frank Reade and Jack Wright "boy inventor" dime novels published before 1900. Those seeking works by Horatio Alger, Harry Castlemon, and Oliver Optic may wish to consult Brandeis University's archive of boys and girls literature of the late nineteenth century. And finally, for those interested in dime novels relating to Texas, the University of Texas Libraries offers a noteworthy collection.