New dime novel collection offers thrills, chills – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

New dime novel collection offers thrills, chills

Ever wonder what your great-grandfather read at the beach? Forget John Grisham, it may have been something like “The Sea Marauder” or “Tiger Tom: The Texan Terror”. These page-turners were called “dime novels” and they were the forerunners of today’s mass-market paperbacks and television series: cheap, crowd-pleasing popular entertainment. The Library Archives are receiving a large donation, nearly 1,000 volumes in total, given by Gene Myler on behalf of his father, Joseph J. Myler ’19, a past chair of the Colleges’ board and a long-time collector of the books. “They’re fun to work with,” said Colleges’ Archivist Linda Benedict, who has had to go the extra mile to ensure the books’ preservation, carefully removing rusting staples and packing them in acid-free paper. “They’re a great part of American popular culture and it’s a joy to read the titles and look at the creative pictures.” Dime novels often featured the adventures of cowboys, pirates, detectives and other pulp-fiction archetypes. The books had their heyday in the second half of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th, becoming more popular with the rise in literacy rates in North America and Europe and declining with the increased popularity of new media like radio, comic books and periodicals. The Joseph J. Myler Collection of Dime Novels represents titles from 1877 to 1903 and will become a permanent and popular fixture of the Library Archives.