The Little Blue Books at 100

Readers of our summer issue were treated to a history of the Little Blue Books, written by Steven Cox, the curator of special collections and university archives at Pittsburg State University (PSU) in Pittsburg, Kansas. A full-length biography of the Little Blue Books' complicated creator, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, was also published this spring. And now, in a bid to keep the momentum going into the series' one hundredth anniversary in 2019, PSU has put out a call for papers for a two-day symposium called The Little Blue Books at 100: Haldeman-Julius's Revolutionary Publishing Venture. It is scheduled for March 29-30, 2019.

Little Blue Books.jpgHaldeman-Julius, long a proponent of socialism and free thought, took over the nation's largest socialist newspaper, The Appeal, in March 1919. Soon thereafter he began publishing inexpensive and immensely popular little books on a variety of topics.

As Cox explained in a recent email, "During the course of his career, which spanned over thirty years, Haldeman-Julius printed and sold an estimated 500,000,000+ Little Blue Books, with over 2,000 different titles..... Haldeman-Julius, with help from his wife Marcet, revolutionized, if not created, mass-market publishing, making his products affordable to all. He also pushed the boundaries of publishing norms by being one of the earliest publishers to publish sexual education information. He popularized the self-help/improvement book, and was among the earliest to decry racial segregation and was the first to publish African-American literature anthologies." 

PSU invites proposals for individual papers (including undergraduate and graduate-level papers) that explore the phenomenon of the Little Blue Books, and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. These topics include, but are not limited to:

    ??    Emanuel Haldeman-Julius
    ??    Marcet Haldeman-Julius
    ??    Haldeman-Julius's Publishing and Marketing Measures
    ??    The Socialist Press of Girard, Kansas
    ??    Little Blue Books as Textbooks
    ??    The Writers of the Little Blue Books
    ??    Series found within the Little Blue Books
    ??    The Legacy of the Little Blue Books
    ??    Publishing Aspects of the Little Blue Books
    ??    Little Blue Books as Literature
    ??    Little Blue Books: Socialist Literature or Open-Minded/Free-Thinking Literature?
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Image courtesy of PSU