Dime Novels and Story Papers Exhibition
“Cheap Thrills,” an exhibition at the Cotsen Children’s Library, highlights the library’s wonderful collection of late-19th and early-20th century dime novels and story papers. The exhibition will run through Sunday, November 26, in the Cotsen Library’s public gallery.
The exhibition focuses on the popular juvenile fiction periodicals that began to emerge in the second half of the nineteenth century as America’s literacy rate began to rise and costs associated with publishing and distributing reading material began to fall. By the turn of the twentieth century, magazines like those being displayed were entertaining millions of young readers across America with tales of adventure, romance, and mystery.
Although they were arguably the most popular reading materials of their day, dime novels and story papers have gone largely unnoticed by modern scholars. Selected from the Cotsen Library’s collection of over 1,700 individual issues, “Cheap Thrills” draws attention to these magazines, focusing on the uniquely American genre of western and frontier adventure, accounts of Ivy League and New England prep-school sports, stories of war and patriotism, and tales of foul murder and mystery. Many of the stories star historical figures like Buffalo Bill and Frank and Jesse James, while others star fictional creations like Nick Carter, perhaps the most famous detective in the history of American mystery fiction, Frank Merriwell, Yale’s all-American sporting hero, and Phil and Ralph Stirling, two cousins who fought on opposing sides during the American Civil War. From the battlefields of the Revolutionary War to the playing grounds of Yale and Princeton, and from the uncharted American West to the mysterious and savage streets of crime-ridden eastern cities, the books on display here capture the essence of popular juvenile fiction at the turn of the twentieth century.
“Cheap Thrills” is curated by Eric Johnson, Cotsen Curatorial Assistant, and was prepared and installed by John Walako, Senior Conservation Technician. The exhibition is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Although no gallery talks are scheduled, feel free to stop by the Cotsen office if you have any questions or would like to learn more about the Library’s collection of dime novels and story papers.
For more information call 609-258-1148 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.