Dime novels were a format of inexpensive popular fiction produced in the United States between 1860 and 1930. 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. 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. It also hosts the Johannsen Project, a collaboration between NIU and Villanova University, generously supported by a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). Visitors may browse the entire full-text collection, explore a particular series or author, or start at our about pages to learn more about dime novels.

News & Updates

October 28, 2020

Please join us on November 4th and 5th from 6:30-8:30 PM CST for a virtual symposium on the dime novel, marking the complete of the Johannsen Project. More than a dozen dime novel scholars will participate in live discussions. More info, including how to register, here.

July 13, 2020

We're happy to announce the Street & Smith Project, a two-year project funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities! More info here.

February 5, 2019

NIU Libraries' Johannsen and LeBlanc Collections are participating in #ColorOurCollections, a social media coloring fest organized by libraries, archives, and museums, the week of Feb. 4-8. Download our coloring book at https://tinyurl.com/ycjg98hg