Dime novels were a format of inexpensive popular literature produced in the United States from 1860 through 1915. Available for as little as a nickel or as much as a dime, they opened up leisure reading for the masses in a way previously not possible. Originally featuring stories about the American frontier and the West, cowboys eventually gave way to detectives, like Nick Carter, and boy adventurers and entrepreneurs, like Frank Reade Jr. and Jack Wright. But dime novels offered something for everybody, with stories about love, war, piracy, school, sports, and even proto-science fiction. This site contains materials from two major dime novel collections in Rare Books and Special Collections at Northern Illinois University: the Albert Johannsen and Edward T. LeBlanc Collections. Read more about the collections here.

News & Updates

January 2017

We're proud to announce the Albert Johannsen Project, a collaboration between NIU and Villanova to digitize the Johannsen Collection. This project will be generously funded by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant over the next three years. More info.

May 2016

We've recently added 256 issues of Wide Awake Library. Check back soon for new additions to Pluck and Luck and Beadle's New Dime Novels.

November 2015

The entire Nickels and Dimes text corpus--nearly 14 million words--is now available for download. This will be used by students in a text mining course offered at NIU in the Spring.