NEH Funded Street & Smith Digitization Project Completed (113,342 pages From 4,790 Dime Novels)
Northern Illinois University Libraries is pleased to announce the completion of the Street & Smith Project. First begun in 2020 with a grant of $338,630 from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), this project involved partner libraries at NIU, Villanova University, Stanford University, Bowling Green State University, and Oberlin College and Conservatory, digitizing 113,342 pages from 4,790 dime novels and story papers published by Street & Smith. These newly digitized dime novels and story papers are now freely available, without restriction, from each partner’s digital library, the majority through NIU’s Nickels and Dimes, and can also be found through the Edward T. LeBlanc Bibliography hosted by Villanova.
Street & Smith was one of the most prolific publishers of paper-covered fiction in the 19th century, and the only publisher to survive the dime novel era and transition into publishing comics and pulp magazines. Their empire was built on New York Weekly, a story paper that began in 1858 and had circulation numbers greater than almost any other periodical in the country for its nearly 50-year run. Street & Smith entered the dime novel field in 1889 with “Log Cabin Library” and “Nugget Library” and would go on to dominate the newsstands with their color-covered nickel weeklies in the 1890s.
Although relative late comers to dime novel publishing, Street & Smith were responsible for some of the era’s most recognizable series and characters:
- “Buffalo Bill Stories” popularized the exploits of William F. Cody, a plainsman already synonymous with the West.
- “Nick Carter Weekly” featured the serialized adventures of Nick Carter, a detective whose
action-packed adventures and colorful adversaries would influence the development of the superhero genre.
- “Tip Top Weekly” chronicled the lives of Frank and Dick Merriwell in what amounted to a decades-long serial novel that set new standards for young adult literature.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.