Dime Novels: Potboilers in American History

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at McFarlin Library is currently reliving the thrills of the sensational dime novels, staples of American popular culture. The Department boasts a collection of over 4000 dime novels, with the latest acquisition dating to the winter of 2013. This winter, we are in the pursuit of reclassification and re-cataloging our collection in order to make it available to our patrons.

Dime novels revolutionized popular culture and became a publication phenomenon, providing Americans with a wealth of popular fiction in a regular series at a fixed, inexpensive price. Dime Novels captured the American spirit starting late 19ththrough the early 20th century. They were popular paperback texts, and were the precursors of today’s mass-market paperbacks and comic books. The books grew to be exceptionally popular with young boys, with stories revolving around the dramatic exploits of a single character. Early dime novels, first printed in orange wrapper paper, were patriotic, often nationalistic tales of encounters between Native Americans and backwoods settlers. By the mid-1890s, bold color covers depicting scenes of bloodshed and courage appealed to a mostly adolescent audience.

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It is interesting that the modern age uses “dime novel” as a term to describe any quickly written, lurid potboiler, generally used as a pejorative to describe a sensationalized yet superficial piece of written work. Critics of dime novels often denounced them as immoral, perhaps because of their violent content. But the books themselves actually tended to reinforce conventional values of the time such as patriotism, bravery, self-reliance, and American nationalism, and were integral in the early stages of American mass culture.

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives, recognizing the merits of the Library of Congress Classification, wishes to successfully re-catalog parts of the collections hoping to make them more accessible to our researchers and match what the dime novels themselves represented: easy accessibility. The heyday of the dime novel was between the 1860s and the 1890s, when their popularity was eclipsed by pulp magazines featuring similar tales of adventure. The series continued to attract the readers well into the 1920s. History also attributes a part of the popularity to the growing literacy rate in the country around that time. With our reclassification, we aim to reorganize the collection to make them available as individual units. Through this project, we also intend to accommodate more of our growing collections/collection in the future.

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The bulk of our dime novels are constituted by the Beadle’s Dime Novels Collection, The Merriwell Series and The Buffalo Bill’s Series. These fragile books are handled with extreme care while reclassifying them. We take pride in conserving our collections and growing them with a steadfast vision to be a better resource for research for the community.

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127th Anniversary of A Study in Scarlet

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This month we celebrate the 127th anniversary of the publication of the novel A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This novel presents the first appearance of beloved literary characters Sherlock Holmes and his friend and chronicler, John Watson. These two characters would subsequently appear in three other novels and five short story collections spanning four decades. The novel was published in the November 1887 issue of Beeton’s Christmas Annual.

A Study in Scarlet introduces the characters of the “consulting detective” Holmes and Dr. John Watson. Conan Doyle wrote the story in 1886, and it was published the following year. The book’s title derives from a speech given by Holmes to Doctor Watson on the nature of his work, in which he describes the story’s murder investigation as his “study in scarlet”: “There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.” (A “study” is a preliminary drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece.)

Although Conan Doyle wrote 56 short stories featuring Holmes, A Study in Scarlet is one of only four full-length novels in the original Holmesian canon. The novel was followed by The Sign of the Four, published in 1890. A Study in Scarlet was the first work of detective fiction to incorporate the magnifying glass as an investigative tool.

The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives holds a number of different editions of A Study in Scarlet, ranging from the 19th century to contemporary editions, as well as three collections that contain a wide variety of Sherlock Holmes paraphernalia. The most prominent of these, the Jack Powell Collection of Sherlock Holmes (1996.004) includes medallions, lapel pins, coffee mugs, and other resource material related to the great detective.

 

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Happy Birthday to Margaret Anderson!

Margaret AndersonNovember 26th marks the birth of one of the early supporters of modernism, Margaret Anderson. Anderson founded the Little Review in 1914, a publication notable for being a venue for the more experimental and risqué works by writers such as Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Amy Lowell. Pound also served as editor of the literary journal and the conflicts between him and Anderson were legendary. Though she was arguably disinterested in equal rights for blacks, Anderson and the Little Review published pieces by notable figures of the Harlem Renaissance as well.

Most famous of the journal’s contributors was James Joyce. The obscenity trial that marked its release resulted from Anderson’s decision to include excerpts from Joyce’s Ulysses. In spite of negative reactions from subscribers and the legal imbroglio, Anderson steadfastly supported the form and content of Ulysses. In spite of the fact that she lauded Joyce’s artistry in relating the experiences of Molly Bloom and Stephen Daedalus, Anderson made some edits to the text in order to avoid the worst charges of obscenity and allow the volumes of the Little Review containing episodes from Ulysses to be disseminated through the mail. Though Anderson had hoped to be a martyr for Modernism by going to jail, she was merely subjected to a fine and a criminal record.

Remembered as much for her contributions to modernist literature as for her eccentric tastes in fashion and her daring personal life (she was a far-left leaning lesbian), Margaret Anderson died at the age of 87 in 1973.

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Closed For Thanksgiving 2014

McFarlin Library Special Collections will be closed Thursday, November 27th, and Friday, November 28th, in observance of Thanksgiving. We will reopen at our normal time on Monday, December 1st. Have a safe and happy holiday.fall-birthday-clip-art-1

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New Acquisition: Report from the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen”

moravian coverThe “Report from the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen on three Moravian church missions to Native Americans including a brief section on their work among the Cherokee Indians in Arkansas, said evangelizing work begun as early as 1740, with teachers sent to live among the Cherokee by the early 1800s” is the newest addition to the Department of Special Collections’ materials related to 19th century European missionary work among the Native Americans. This twelve page pamphlet includes geographical descriptions of Canada, as well as living conditions in territories ranging from Leaven worth, Kansas and Beattie Prairie Arkansas.

This document is dated September 1842 and written in German. The Moravian Church is one of the oldest Protestant denominations, dating back to 1457 and Moravian missionaries were famous for their interest in educating the common man and their prolific hymn and sermon writing. The Moravians established missions among the Inuit in Greenland, Delaware, Cherokee, and a number of peoples in Africa and the Caribbean. The report provides a brief glimpse into the issues facing both missionaries and the people they were interesting in converting. For instance, there is a brief record of a visit from “our Indian Brother Nathan” and a measles epidemic the previous summer. Of interest to both the Moravians and researchers curious about their success is the statement “Finally there was an Indian congregation of 35 communicants, 35 converted and baptized adults, 57 baptized children, 22 partly converted…altogether 149 people , one fewer than in the previous year.”
The “Report from the Society of the United Brethren for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen…” is but one of the religious texts that provides insight into attempts to convert Native Americans to Christianity. Other, related texts in our collection include: The Moravian Indian mission on White River : diaries and letters, May 5, 1799 to November 12, 1806 / translated from the German of the original manuscript by Harry E. Stocker, Herman T. Frueauff, and Samuel C. Zeller, edited by Lawrence Henry Gipson, The Four Gospels of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Shawnee Indian Language by Thomas W. Alford from about 1929, Indian hymns in the Seneca language, and bibles translated into Cherokee, Delaware, Mohawk, and other Native American languages.

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Signature Society Event: Wine and War 101

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On Thursday, November 13th Adrian Alexander, R.M. and Ida McFarlin Dean of the Library, hosted Wine & War 101, a Signature Society event. The evening was meant to be an entertaining and educational experience. It combined a lecture on how France protected their treasured commodity during the Great War, and a wine tasting conducted by Sommelier Tyler Mirt about wines of France.

Wine and War 101 specifically explored the place of wine in the French war effort during World War I and the impact of the war on one of France’s major industries. Particular attention was paid to the world-famous Champagne region of France because it was directly affected by the fighting for all four years of the conflict and its vineyards devastated as a result. The relationship between the French soldier (poilu) and wine was discussed as well. The attendees had the opportunity to sample a California sparkling white wine, a  Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a Beaujolais, and, as a surprise to our guests, an authentic Trappist Belgian Ale

Established in 2013, McFarlin Signature Society is comprised of alumni and community members who provide a minimum $500 gift to support the most pressing needs of McFarlin Library. Signature Society  support is pooled to expand the library’s electronic journals  collection, upgrade technology, and provide staff support  critical to the daily operation of McFarlin Library. Your gift may be made in one annual payment, in pledge payments throughout the year, or matched by your employer to total $500.

We plan to host two other events this academic year to introduce people to the Library’s various collections. For more information on these events and to help TU students prepare to make their own signature on the world, contact Amy Gerald, Director of Development for McFarlin Library, at 918-631-3733 or amy-gerald@utulsa.edu.

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“War Stories: Materials from the First World War Collection” Opens Friday

“War Stories: Materials from the First World War Collections of the department of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa” is an exhibit that is part if the TU’s program of events and exhibits commemorating the centennial of World War I. “War Stories” features material from a number of collections that relate the experiences of Black and Native American soldiers, as well as civilians on the home front through diaries and letters, photographs, ephemera, and even the equipment issued to soldiers. The experiences of each of these groups were distinct, but the items included in this exhibit show the universality of their commitment to the cause of doing their bit. Personal letters to and from soldiers illustrate the level of sacrifice required by combatants and their loved ones. Diaries and photographs provide a glimpse into some of the day to day activities of military life as well as the exotic sights witnessed by soldiers, many of who had never been abroad before the war.

“War Stories: Materials from the First World War Collections of the department of Special Collections and University Archives, McFarlin Library, The University of Tulsa” opens Friday, October 31st and will be on view in the Lorton Performing Arts Center through November 14, 2014.

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Irish Poet Paul Muldoon at McFarlin Fellow Event

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The University of Tulsa’s Department of Special Collections and University Archives would like to announce the upcoming McFarlin Fellows event “One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: A Poetry Reading by Paul Muldoon,” on October 23rd, 2014. Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet educated in Armagh and at the Queen’s University of Belfast. He is currently based in the United States and serves and Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor at Princeton University. Professor Muldoon is also the President of the Poetry Society (UK), Poetry Editor of The New Yorker, and an honorary Fellow of Hertford College at the University of Oxford.

Professor Muldoon’s main collections of poetry are New Weather (1973), Mules (1977),  (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof  (1983), Meeting the British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems 1968-1998 (2001), Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), Horse Latitudes (2006), and Maggot (2010). He has also contributed the librettos for four operas by Daron Hagen: Shining Brow (1992), Vera of Las Vegas (1996), Bandanna (1998), and The Antient Concert (2005). His interests have not only included libretto, but the rock lyric as well, penning lines for the band The Handsome Family as well as the late Warren Zevon whose titular track “My Ride’s Here” belongs to a Muldoon collaboration.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Professor Muldoon was given the American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature in 1996. Other awards include the 1994 T.S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2005 Aspen Prize for Poetry, and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry.

The evening will begin at 6:30 PM with a cocktail reception held at the Ann and Jack Graves Faculty Study at McFarlin Library, followed by dinner in the Pat and Arnold Brown Reading Room. Capping the evening, Professor Muldoon will treat the audience with a reading of his poetry.

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Library Open House During Homecoming

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As part of Homecoming’s events, the University of Tulsa’s McFarlin Library and the Department of Special Collections and University Archives will hold an open house this Friday, October 17th from 4:00-5:00 p.m. We invite all our alumni and visitors to come and see a special display of artifacts related to World War I and the University of Tulsa. The exhibit features WWI memorabilia such as photographs, diaries, and scrapbooks from some of the Harry Kendall College’s students and faculty that served in Europe, as well as some of the gear carried by American GIs while oversea. Among these items, our visitors will find a Springfield M1903 .30 caliber rifle. Please contact Amy Gerald, Director of Development, with any questions at amy-gerald@utulsa.edu.

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New Aquisitions Party

McFarlin Library’s Department of Special Collections is pleased to host the McFarlin Fellows for light hors d’oeuvres and an opportunity to view our most recent acquisitions from 5:30 to 7:00 PM on Thursday, October 2nd. During this invitation only event, scrapbooks from the 101 Ranch, Greenwood, and Lynn Riggs will be among the items on display. Additionally, Fellows will be able to see scripts from The Outsiders as well as an uncorrected proof of the novel. Other recent acquisitions available for viewing during this the event include: materials related to the photographer filmmaker, and Tulsa-native Larry Clark, a new publication of James Joyce’s The Dead, fine printed materials, screenplays, and panoramic photos.

Questions may be directed to Amy Gerald, Director of Development for McFarlin Library, (918) 631-3733.

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