Scope and Content of Collection
The collection consists of pamphlets from both the Little Blue Book and Big Book Series. Pamphlets in the Little Blue Book series measure 5 x 3 1/2 inches. They cover a wide variety of subjects, including classical literature, history, useful knowledge, and frank treatment of sexuality, with an emphasis on homosexuality. Pamphlets in the Big Book Series measure 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, and deal primarily with issues of sexuality. The bulk of the pamphlets are written in the late 1940s by David Oliver Cauldwell (1896-1959), a prolific and pioneering sexologist who published extensively on homosexuality and transsexualism. The sensational, often lengthy, titles were dictated by the publisher to pique public interest and increase sales.
- Creation: circa 1924-1950
- Cotright, Van (Person)
The collection is open to researchers. There are no access restrictions.
Researchers wishing to publish materials must obtain permission in writing from ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives as the physical owner. Researchers must also obtain clearance from the holder(s) of any copyrights in the materials. Note that ONE National Gay and Lesbian Archives can grant copyright clearance only for those materials for which we hold the copyright. It is the responsibility of the researcher to obtain copyright clearance for all other materials directly from the copyright holder(s).
Emanuel Julius was born in Philadelphia on July 30, 1889, the son of a Jewish bookbinder who had emigrated with his family from Russia. Harassed as a child for being Jewish, Julius developed a distain for all religion. After leaving school at age 15, Julius worked at a variety of menial jobs. He also read voraciously, in particular literature and pamphlets published by socialists, which was inexpensive and readily available. Convinced of their truth, Julius joined the Socialist Party before World War I. He became a journalist and in 1915 moved to Girard, Kansas, as editor of Appeal to Reason, an influential socialist newspaper with a large national circulation. The following year he married Anna Marcet Haldeman (whose name he added to his own in hyphenate), daughter of a wealthy local banker and niece of the social worker Jane Addams.
Inspired by the cheap ten-cent paperback editions of classic works he had purchased as a 15-year-old (Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol had struck him in particular), Julius nurtured the idea of publishing small, inexpensive paperback pocketbooks to provide information, in particular works of classic literature as well as those expressing common-sense knowledge, a wide range of ideas, and various points of view, to both the working and "educated" classes. He purchased the presses and 175,000-name subscriber list of his former employer, Appeal to Reason, and in 1919 began publishing Appeal's Pocket Series on cheap pulp paper, stapled and bound in a stiff red paper cover, for 25 cents each. The series name and color of the binding changed over the first few years, before settling on "Little Blue Book" in 1923. The pamphlets, which measured 5 x 3 1/2 inches, and cost 5 cents, were enormously popular, finding their way into the pockets of laborers, scholars, and the average citizen; their small size and low price made the books especially popular with travelers and transient workers. Beginning in 1925, Haldeman-Julius also published the "Big Blue Book" series, measuring 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches, costing 10 cents each; many, but by no means all the titles in this series were reprints of titles in the Little Blue Book series, in a more "agreeable" format. Both series sold an estimated total of 500 million copies. The St. Louis Dispatch called Haldeman-Julius "the Henry Ford of literature", and Haldeman-Julius and his wife became rich.
Following World War II, the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover viewed the Little Blue Books' treatment of subjects such as socialism and atheism, and the frank treatment of sexuality, as subversive, and placed Haldeman-Julius on its "enemies" list. This caused a rapid decline in the number of bookstores willing to carry Haldeman-Julius' publications, and they sank into obscurity. Haldeman-Julius and his wife legally separated in 1934. Marcet died in 1941, and the following year Haldeman-Julius married Susan Haney, an employee. He drowned in his swimming pool on July 31, 1951. His son, Henry, took over the presses and continued to print and sell the pamphlets until the printing house burned down on July 4, 1978.
"Emanuel Haldeman-Julius: The Paper Giant",
Burnett, Betty. "Haldeman-Julius, Emanuel." American National Biography. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Jacoby, Susan. Freethinkers: a history of American secularism. New York: Henry Holt, 2004.
Haldeman-Julius : Pocket Series and the Little Blue Books,
Haldeman-Julius' papers are held by the Leonard H. Axe Library,
Inventory of Big Blue Books held by the Lilly Library, Indiana University Library,
Language of Materials
Pamphlets from both the Little Blue Book and Big Book Series published between 1924 and 1950 by socialist activist Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (1889-1951). The pamphlets are printed on pulp paper and staple-bound, and were marketed to workers and the "educated" classes. Almost all the titles deal with homosexual themes, and cover a wide variety of subjects, including classical literature, history, useful knowledge, and frank treatment of sexuality. The bulk of the pamphlets were written in the late 1940s by David Oliver Cauldwell, a prolific and pioneering sexologist who published extensively on homosexuality and transsexualism. The sensational, often lengthy, titles were dictated by the publisher to pique public interest and increase sales.
Approximately half the items were acquired by Jim Kepner between 1942 and 1997. A number were donated by Van Cotright, April 17, 2009 and numbers 74 and 91 were acquired in June 2015.
Items acquired by Jim Kepner transferred from Pamphlets Collection. Collection processed by Michael P. Palmer, September 15, 2009.
- Guide to the Haldeman-Julius Publications
- Michael P. Palmer
- © 2009
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in: English
- Processing this collection has been funded by a generous grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.