The importance of the paperback novel is evident in today’s world – with engrossing titles not only lining shelves at your local bookstore, but the aisles of supermarkets and corner shops. However, the phenomenon of the enjoyable – and convenient – paperback book is not a new one. In fact, it dates back to the mid-1800s with the advent of Dime Novels, short and vivid tales that were marketed for their ease of consumption and affordability.
Hobart and William Smith were recently the recipients of a large donation of these quintessential pieces of American history – expanding the Colleges’ already extensive collection.
Arriving in July from St. John Fisher College, approximately 750 dime novels were added to the Joseph J. Myler ’19 Collection of Half Dime Novels – uniting Myler’s collection for the first time in a number of years. With titles such as “Ralph Boy, The Boy Buccaneer” or “The Fugitive Yacht,” readers can be transported to the American frontier or aboard a pirate ship bound for the West Indies.
“The Myler family has donated several historical items of interest to the archives in recent years. We’re delighted to be able to reunite Joseph Myler¹s dime novel collection and to have it housed in the Warren Hunting Smith Library,” says Vincent Boisselle, director of the Warren Hunting Smith Library. “Dime novels are a unique reflection of 19th century popular fiction, and we are happy that the HWS community will have the opportunity to make use of them in the classroom and in their research.”
The Joseph J. Myler ’19 Collection of Half Dime Novels, housed in the library archives, includes a staggering 992 of Beadle’s Half Dime Library, with publication dates ranging from 1877 to 1905, and 44 issues of the Dime Novel Club, which commenced publishing in 1945. The collection, along with Myler’s records and correspondences concerning the extensive collection, was donated to the Colleges by Myler’s son, Gene Myler.
Myler was on the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees from 1939-1959, serving as chair of the board from 1948-1952. He was the recipient of an honorary doctorate from HWS in 1959.
In the photo above Archivist Katie Lamontagne and Library Director Melissa Jadlos display Dime Novels from the Joseph J. Myler ’19 Collection of Half Dime Novels that were donated to the Colleges.