Dime novels were a format of inexpensive popular fiction produced in the United States from 1860 through 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, backwoodsmen and 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

December 21, 2017

We've recently finished uploading our holdings of Beadle's Half-Dime Library, including a whopping 1,111 issues--a major milestone for the Johannsen Project! A list of missing issues can be found here.

August 30, 2017

Our website was recently redesigned to improve performance and responsiveness. Several contextual essays have also been added, including Formats, Authorship, Genres, and Scholarship. While parts of the site are still under construction, please let us know what you think.

June 6, 2017

We've finished adding every issue we own of New Nick Carter weekly to the collection, encompassing what J. Randolph Cox calls the Golden Age of the character.