Compiled by Amie Oliver, Brian Simmons, Tiff Sowell, and Amanda Norman
Inspired by the coloring trend and project sponsors New York Academy of Medicine and BioDiversity Heritage Library, The Texas Collection has selected a few pages from our print materials collection for your coloring pleasure. The selections are a good example of the wide range of subjects our collections cover–from botany to dime novels, you will find all manner of Texas topics in our holdings.
Download the coloring pages using the link below, color to your heart’s content, then share your artwork with us on Facebook and/or Twitter, with the hashtag #ColorOurCollections. We look forward to seeing your creativity!
The Texas Collection is proud to present our newest exhibit, “Dime Novels: The Rise of the American Hero.” Gallop into the adventures with our promotional video on YouTube:
From 1860 to 1920, the dime novel was an immensely popular form of entertainment in the United States. The stories were not critically praised and the writing was often a formulaic action story, but the dime novel resonated with American readers. Although the subject matter of the dime novels included detective, military, and even early science fiction stories, it was the Western dime novel that dominated the market. And it was the Western dime novel that introduced the Western hero who would stand as a distinctively American archetype to the present day.
Adventures for a Dime
The term “dime novel” began as a brand name for the publications first issued by the New York printing firm Beadle and Adams. Beadle’s Dime Novels were an immediate success even though there was already a precedent for an inexpensive, stock adventure publication. The successful dime novel formula included a dramatic cover illustration on a pamphlet-like booklet.
Making Money, Dime by Dime
Writing the dramatic stories for the dime novels was a lucrative business for many late 19th century authors. If the author could establish a popular character in a long running series, he or she could expect a price of up to $1,000 per story. A less established author could expect close to $50 per story. Many authors shared common traits, including the ability to produce an extraordinary amount of pages in a short time and personal adventures that rivaled their dime novel heroes.
One such author, Prentiss Ingraham, achieved success and fame as an author of the “Buffalo Bill” series for Beadle’s and by his own count had written 600 novels by 1900. Most remarkable however, was Ingraham’s life before he became a writer. As a Confederate scout in the Civil War he had harrowing experiences including capture and escape from Union forces. After the war he continued to serve in conflicts in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.
Upon his return to the United States, Ingraham headed west and in 1884 met William “Buffalo Bill” Cody and worked as an agent for his Wild West Show. When he returned east, Ingraham began to write plays, poems, and dime novels, most likely relying on his own experiences for his action stories. Though Ingraham died in 1904, his Buffalo Bill stories were reissued in multiple dime novel publications well into the 20th century.
Female authors also found success in the dime novel market. Most notably, Ann S. Stephens was the author of the very first Beadle’s Dime Novel, a story titled “Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter” in 1860. Already an accomplished writer and editor with Ladies Companion and Graham’s Magazine, Stephens wrote more dime novels but also published popular novels and plays.
Dime Novel Heroes Move to New Media
In the 1880s and 1890s dime novels began to be published in bi-weekly series titled “Libraries.” These were shorter than the original dime novels, but the size of the pages were made larger to compensate, and the price was dropped to five cents.
Buffalo Bill dime novels continued to be popular well into the 20th Century and new Western heroes like the young adventurer named “Wild West” became established in the 1900s, but the Western in dime novel form was losing ground to other genres such as the New York detective stories. By World War I dime novels were being published less. At this time, young readers could spend their five cents to see a motion picture instead of paying to read the latest dime novel. The Western heroes from the dime novel didn’t fade away— they simply moved with the audience, becoming the featured stars in the new films and pulp magazines.
You can see the exhibit through the Fall semester at The Texas Collection in Carroll Library.
By Sean Todd (Library Assistant) and Amie Oliver (Coordinator for User and Access Services)
Meet Amie Oliver, originally from Mississippi, and Coordinator for User and Access Services, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:
As the Coordinator for User and Access Services, the bulk of my work deals with patrons. Whether these patrons come in person or contact us online or by phone, I am usually their first point of contact. I’ll let you in on a little secret—I’m the person behind our general email account (email@example.com) as well as our Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter (though occasionally other staffers tweet). Using social media has allowed us the opportunity to interact with people all over the world, and I’m happy we have a great following on all platforms we use.
Working with researchers is rewarding, and I never know who may contact me—the Pentagon, the New York Giants, the Texas Supreme Court, or scholars from all over the world. I appreciate all of our patrons, but I particularly like when History Fair students come in because it’s a great way to introduce special collections to younger generations.
Using special collections can often be intimidating, but it does not have to be. We hold a world of information, and I try to ensure that each patron is welcomed and valued. Patrons often say they don’t want to bother me, but helping patrons is my job. I want you to bother me!
One of my favorite duties is consulting with students about research. During the consultation, I try to get to know them, find their interests, and steer them to topics that are personal and interesting to them. I also consult with professors about their personal research or for student projects. It’s rewarding to see patrons take an interest in a topic based on items we have in the collection.
I provide bibliographic instruction to Baylor students where I teach them about our collection and the items it contains. I also give presentations to the Central Texas community. I like seeing people get excited about special collections and the treasures they may find.
Since the Librarian retired, I have served as bibliographer for the collection, and I oversee the rare book room. I receive catalogs from dealers across the country, and it is my job to select books for purchase. One of my recent purchases, Resources of the Southern Fields and Forests, Medical, Economical, and Agricultural by Francis Peyre Porcher, published in 1863, is a beautifully bound item and is considered one of the best scientific texts produced under the Confederacy.
With nearly 167,000 volumes, our print collection (including our rare books) is vast, and it is important that I honor the collection by choosing the best items with the most value to our scholars as well as honor the bibliographers who came before me by selecting as wisely as they did. Their contributions helped to make this collection one of the finest Texana collections in the world.
In addition to the work above, I also hire, train, and supervise student workers, plan and implement organizational projects, research and install exhibits, manage statistics, preservation, and serve as editor of our newsletter, Viva Texas.
I enjoy my job because I like helping others, and I am very lucky to be able to work with such an amazing collection.
The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.