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Haldeman-Julius (Emanuel) Big Blue Books and Larger Books Collection
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  • Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives
    Title: Emanuel Haldeman-Julius Big Blue Books and Larger Books Collection
    Creator: Haldeman-Julius, E. (Emanuel), 1888-1951
    Identifier/Call Number: SC.EHJB
    Extent: 4.17 linear feet
    Date (inclusive): 1922-1955
    Abstract: Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1888-1951) moved to Girard, Kansas in 1915 to begin writing for Appeal to Reason, a leading socialist newspaper in pre-World War I America. In 1919, he purchased a partnership with Louis Kopelin in the newspaper and its printing facility with money borrowed from his wife Marcet Haldeman. He began issuing the Big Blue Books in 1925. They were 5 ½ inches x 8 ½ inches and generally 30,000 words in 64 pages. Customers could order titles from mail order catalogs or visit one of the outlet stores in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Venice, Colorado. The Los Angeles store opened in 1924 in the downtown Mercantile Arcade Building. These larger format versions cost from 25 cents to $1.00 each.
    Language of Material: English

    Biographical Information:

    Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, a newspaper publisher, opened a publishing house in Girard, Kansas, in 1919 where he published small, inexpensive paperback books, including classic works of literature and essays on myriad topics, for the working and middle classes. For his first printing project, he selected fifty classic and socialist works. In 1923 he named the series "Little Blue Books." Little Blue Books measure 3½" x 5" and took their name from their blue covers. They fit into a pants or shirt pocket, and were especially popular across the US through the 1930s and 1940s, especially with travelers. He began issuing the Big Blue Books in 1925. They were 5 ½" x 8 ½."
    Haldeman-Julius felt there was no subject too controversial to be in print. Customers could order titles from mail order catalogs or visit one of the outlet stores in Cincinnati, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Venice, Colorado. The Los Angeles store opened in 1924 in the downtown Mercantile Arcade Building (recently converted to loft apartments).

    Scope and Contents

    The Big Blue Books and Larger Books are part of the Library's Emanuel Haldeman-Julius collections. While many Haldeman-Julius publications are numbered, varying schemes were in use over time. Haldeman-Julius occasionally reissued earlier B numbered titles without a number or assigned a new B number (e.g. B-471 was originally numbered B-26). Items in may have a B number and a series number, such as Joseph McCabe's History of Human Morals. When the earlier B number could be determined it is recorded in brackets as "originally issued as …." or "reissued as…." In some cases duplicate titles are included that display physical differences such as different color covers or numbering distinctions. Where the number suddenly jumps to 5000, the size also increases to over 9." Advertisements refer to these as the "larger books." Two exceptions are B-5004 and B-5500 which are the same size as the other Big Blue Books. The collection is divided into two major series: Unnumbered and Numbered Titles (1923-1951) and Publisher's Series (1922-1951).
    Series I, Unnumbered and Numbered Titles, consists of two subseries: Unnumbered Titles (1927-1949) and Numbered Titles (1923-1951). Unnumbered Titles have no B or catalog number, nor are they part of a publisher's series. They are included here because their size and printing format conforms to the numbered Big Blue Books. These are arranged alphabetically by author. Numbered Titles include the B series numbers (called Big Blue Books in Haldeman-Julius advertisements). It also includes numbered titles found in our copy of the publisher's Big Blue Books Catalog (61 pages, no date), or confirmed against the finding guide for the Haldeman-Julius Publications, Mid-Sized Books, 1905-1951 prepared by Dyani Scheuerman at Kent State University Library's Department of Special Collections and Archives. Numbers from these last two sources are bracketed.
    Series II, Publisher's Series, consists of seventeen subseries: Subseries A, The ABC Library of Living Knowledge (1937-1938), was authored by Joseph McCabe (1867-1955), a former Franciscan monk and outspoken English rationalist. They cover astronomy, fascism, Nazism, the Spanish Civil War, imperial Japan, American politics, health, economics, and anthropology. Subseries B, Appeal to Reason Library (1935), consists of articles on Catholicism and contemporary world politics. Subseries C, Black International (1941-1942), consists of writings linking fascism and the Catholic Church. Subseries D, Book of Life (1922), consists of works by Upton Sinclair. Subseries E, Digest (1944-1945), consists of condensed versions of works by Charles Dickens, Daniel Defoe, Richard Wagner, Sir Thomas Moore, and other well-known authors, many with new introductions by Miriam Allen deFord. Subseries F, Freethinker's Library (1944-1945), consists of ten 15,000 word essays on rationalism, God, and religion. Subseries G, History of Human Morals, consists of essays on morality from ancient to modern times in European, Middle Eastern, and Asian civilizations. Subseries H, Key to Culture, consists of a series by McCabe on varied topics including science, literature, education, philosophy, psychology, and art and architecture. Subseries I, Key to Evolution, consists of materials written by Maynard Shipley, co-founder with his wife Miriam Allen deFord, of the Science League of America during the anti-evolution movement of the 1920s.
    Subseries J, The Key to Love and Sex, consists of writings on the philosophy and history of sex, and sexual morals in American and European civilization. Subseries K, Notes and Comments (1950-1951), consists of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius reflections on a variety of subjects such as religion, sex, politics, and famous persons. Subseries L, One Hundred Men Who Moved the World (1931), consists of character sketches about individuals the author considers the greatest creative forces in history. Subseries M, Questions and Answers (1935-1950), consists of Haldeman-Julius' responses to reader questions. The series aimed to help the reader solve difficult problems in government, science, and economics. Subseries N, Reviewer's Library (1936), consists of short biographies of notable contemporaries such and Jane Addams, George Gershwin, and Benito Mussolini. Subseries O, The Story of the Human Race (1931), consists of biographies of historical persons. Subseries P, Views & Reviews, consists of opinions, criticisms, comments, character sketches, jokes and wisecracks. Subseries Q, Wisdom of Life (1947-1949), consists of works focused on the intellectual contributions of various authors and exotic locales including Emerson and India.

    Arrangement of Materials:

    Series I: Unnumbered and Numbered Titles, 1923-1951
        Subseries A: Unnumbered Titles, 1927-1949
        Subseries B: Numbered Titles, 1923-1951
    Series II: Publisher's Series, 1922-1951
        Subseries A: The ABC Library of Living Knowledge, 1937-1938
        Subseries B: Appeal to Reason Library, 1935
        Subseries C: Black International, 1941-1942
        Subseries D: Book of Life, 1922
        Subseries E: Digest, 1944-1945
        Subseries F: The Freethinker's Library, 1944-1945
        Subseries G: History of Human Morals
        Subseries H: Key to Culture
        Subseries I: Key to Evolution
        Subseries J: The Key to Love and Sex
        Subseries K: Notes and Comments, 1950-1951
        Subseries L: One Hundred Men Who Moved the World, 1931
        Subseries M: Questions and Answers, 1935-1950
        Subseries N: Reviewer's Library, 1936
        Subseries O: The Story of the Human Race, 1931
        Subseries P: Views & Reviews
        Subseries Q: Wisdom of Life, 1947-1949

    Related Material

    Conditions Governing Access:

    The collection is open for research use.

    Conditions Governing Use:

    Copyright for unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection has not been transferred to California State University, Northridge. 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.


    1970s, 1990

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Norman Tannis and Jack Botwin.

    Preferred Citation:

    For information about citing items in this collection consult the appropriate style manual, or see the Citing Archival Materials  guide.

    Processing Information:

    Tony Gardner, 2007