Northern Illinois University recently announced a new digitization project in their release,”University Libraries awarded more than $448,000 for digitization project.”

The Council on Library and Information Resources has awarded the University Libraries, in collaboration with the Falvey Memorial Library at Villanova University, with a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives grant for $448,893 to digitize its Johannsen Collection of dime novels.

Dime novels were the direct precursors to the pulp magazine and a close relative of the comic book. These publications were read by a vast audience that included working class people and children who often could not afford conventional hardback fiction.

Beadle and Adams was the leading publisher of dime novels and also played an important role in the evolution of early American popular fiction, especially the Western. While working on his book, Johannsen amassed one of the largest private collections of dime novels and story papers in the United States. This collection was purchased by Northern Illinois University in 1967. This collection contains 6,593 publications issued by Beadle and Adams between 1852 and 1897.

Digitization of collections like these will change who has access, much like dime novels changed who had access to literature.

Melody K. Smith

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