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Format: Each unit has its own printed index with author, title, and reel number access. Free with collection.
Media: 73 reels of 35mm microfilm
Coverage Dates: 1840-1900
Sources Covered: More than 3,000

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The dime novel of the 1800s was an early source of entertainment for the masses, providing excitement, romance, and escape to generations of Americans from the cities to the rural areas. Today's researcher in mass media, American history, popular culture, or early American popular literature can now study this cultural phenomenon through a microfilm collection that provides access to what were the radio and television of another era.

 Dime Novels is a collection of more than 3,000 of these popular pocket-size books from the 1840s to early 1900s. Titles in the collection were published by Beadle and Adams, a New York firm that early dominated the dime novel publishing business, and this series was selected primarily from the bibliography The House of Beadle and Adams, by Albert Johannsen.

These popular books reveal the ideals of the times. The colorful characters and stories display typically American trends of patriotism, rugged individualism, frontier virtues, and faith in hard work as the road to success. And students will recognize the novels' melodramatic plots as a precursor of what was to come--pulp magazines, movies, radio, and television. As Merle Curti wrote in The Yale Review, "Reading dime novels today can give you insight into the 1800s. The student of social and intellectual history who tries to understand the transit of ideas, from the more favored to the less favored, must examine dime novels."

This collection is offered in seven units. Most of the materials filmed were obtained from the University of Minnesota and are part of the collection donated to the university by George Hess, a founding member of the Dime Novel Club. The Deadwood Dick series titles were obtained from the Russel B. Nye collection at Michigan State University.

VOLUME EQUIVALENT: 3,117 titles and volumes

  • Content Type: Each unit has its own printed index with author, title, and reel number access. Free with collection.

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