The Elizabeth Nesbitt Room
Dime Novel Collection
The "dime novel" was a form of popular literature published in the U.S. from the mid to late 19th century through the early part of the 20th century. Costing as little as 10 cents in the beginning of their production, these paperbacks were affordable to people in the working classes. Purporting to be “true stories” of people from early America, the Wild West, and the Civil War, these fictionalized accounts were actually sensational, melodramatic tales that included many adventure tales and detective stories.
The first appeared in 1860, published in New York by Beadle & Adams, under the series name Beadle's Dime Novels. Later, the term "dime novel" came to encompass an entire genre of cheap, paper-covered fiction, usually magazine-sized and issued in numbered sequence. Although they earned a reputation as immoral, junk literature, they nevertheless remained widely popular. While early dime novels were aimed at adults, most publishers soon began offering selections for teenagers and younger readers.
The Elizabeth Nesbitt Room contains a small representative sampling of about 30 dime novels; some of them translations from foreign languages. Due to the poor quality of paper used in their production, they are extrememly brittle today and require great care.