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Little Blue Books Collection

Identifier: EPH 5017

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of "little blue books"; however, it includes examples of the "People's Pocket Series," the "Appeal Pocket Series," the "Ten Cent Pocket Series," etc. In many cases, the series are virtually interchangeable; see, for example, folder 45 where we have two editions of Shakespeare's sonnets; though they are from different series, they are alike with regard to size, pagination, and even series number with the only difference being the series title indicated on the cover. There are no indications in the individual booklets as to exact publication dates.


  • Creation: 1919-1978


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951) was an American publisher and editor, who in 1919 purchased the socialist newspaper, Appeal to Reason. which was published in Girard, Kansas. In response to a request for inexpensive texts for the working man, he used the press to issue several series of inexpensive paperbacks, each of which measured 3 1/2 by 5 inches. The "Little Blue Books" comprised the most popular and best known of the Haldeman-Julius pocket series. The little blue books featured such authors as: Shakespeare, Dante, Tolstoy, Dickens, Goethe, Plato, Pascal, and many others. Besides this pantheon of great authors, the series also offered more politically charged works presenting the debate between communism and capitalism or underscoring the positive aspects of the Soviet constitution. Other series numbers helped educate the public on controversial subjects from birth control to civil rights. Gradually the series included titles on sex education as well as self-improvement titles: how to teach yourself arithmetic, or spelling, or how to form good habits. Despite the Great Depression and later the problems presented by the Cold War atmosphere, Haldeman-Julius's publishing venture thrived, putting an estimated 300 million copies of inexpensive "little blue books" into the hands of working-class and middle-class Americans. Indeed the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.called Haldeman-Julius the "Henry Ford of Literature."


9 Cubic Feet (6 boxes; 451 titles.)

Language of Materials



The collection includes titles from the Little Blue Book and related series. Among the titles are ten duplicates.


Materials are arranged with one book per folder.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The circumstances surrounding the acquisition of this collection by the Hesburgh Libraries are not known. Arranged and described by Kenneth Kinslow. Finding aid 2014, by Sheila Smyth.

Little Blue Books Collection
Edited Full Draft
Kenneth Kinslow. Updated 2019 by Debra Dochuk.
September 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556