New collection on Nickels and Dimes: Beadle's New York Dime Library

Matthew Short's picture
Online Digital Resources
United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Digital Humanities, Literature, Popular Culture Studies, Teaching and Learning



DeKalb, Illinois - September 18, 2018 - The Johannsen Project and NIU Libraries recently completed digitization of Beadle’s New York Dime Library, the longest running dime novel series published by Beadle & Adams. The collection contains 1,097 issues (99% complete) and can be found on Nickels and Dimes here:


Beadle's New York Dime Library spanned twenty-eight years and seven months between May 1877 and December 1905. Frontier and Western stories predominate early on, with detective stories much more common toward the end of the series. Major recurring characters include Buffalo Bill, Dick Talbot, Thad Burr, and Joe Phenix. Prentiss Ingraham, Joseph E. Badger, and Albert W. Aiken are the main contributors. Several of the Buffalo Bill novels were likely written by William F. Cody himself.


Two of our favorite novels from this series are:


Captain Volcano; or, The Man of the Red Revolvers, a story about a lesbian pirate who “had conceived that strange liking for other girls which has been known, in rare cases, to exist in the female breast”:


Electro Pete, the Man of Fire; or, The Wharf Rats of Locust Point, a mystery set in Baltimore about a robber who wears a protective vest that emits electricity:


The dime novel is a format of inexpensive fiction that was popular in the United States between 1860 and 1915. They are one of the first formats of leisure reading materials made widely available to the masses, read by everyone from children to factory workers. Nickels and Dimes contains over 6,000 dime novels and story papers, which can be freely downloaded as PDFs and are full-text searchable.


The Johannsen Project seeks to digitize NIU’s Johannsen Collection, which contains almost everything published by Beadle & Adams, the first dime novel publisher. The project is made possible by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources, which is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.


Questions about Nickels and Dimes or the Johannsen Project should be directed to Matthew Short, Digital Collections & Metadata Librarian at NIU.

Contact Info: 

Matthew Short

Northern Illinois University

1425 W. Lincoln Hwy.

DeKalb, IL 60115

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