Grants & Projects

Albert Johannsen Project

CLIR-logo-RGB.jpgIn January 2017, Northern Illinois University and Villanova University received a Digitizing Hidden Collections grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) for $448,893 to digitize the dime novels of Beadle & Adams, the first and most important publisher of the format. The project involved digitizing Albert Johannsen’s personal collection, acquired by NIU in 1967, and included related publications from Villanova’s special collections. A total of 5,400 dime novels were digitized and made freely available to read and download on Nickels and Dimes. In addition, the project incorporated metadata from Johannsen’s The House of Beadle and Adams and its Nickel and Dime Novels (1950), one of the most significant works of dime novel scholarship and bibliography of the 20th century, including relationships between stories, editions, and authors. This was published as open linked data on and included digital holdings information, which will be used to coordinate dime novel digitization across multiple institutions.

In addition to digitizing dime novels, project staff will also worked with an advisory panel of educators and scholars to develop curriculum materials, including contextual essays and lesson plans. The project culminated in a symposium at NIU in 2020 on the dime novels of Beadle & Adams. The full proposal can be found on CLIR's website.

Street and Smith Project

NEH-Preferred-Seal820_0.jpgIn July 2020, Northern Illinois University, Villanova University, Stanford University, Bowling Green State University, and Oberlin College received a Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for $338,630 to digitize the dime novel of Street & Smith, the only major publisher to survive the dime novel era and successfully transition into publishing pulp magazines and comic books. This project will involve digitizing 4,409 volumes of dime novels and story papers, which will be published on each institution's website and aggregated through In addition to producing images and full-text, the project will also add detailed bibliographic information about Street & Smith's publications to, including entries for every story and author.

Presentations and Press:

Papers for the People: A Dime Novel Symposium (November 4-5, 2020).

A Digital Afterlife for Dime Novels. The Wall Street Journal (May 30-31, 2020).

Dime Novel Digitization at NIU. Lecture and articles for the Caxton Club.

Field Notes Quarterly Release - Fall 2017 - Dime Novel (video below): a short film about dime novels and the Johannsen Project, released to coincide with a dime novel-themed notebook from Field Notes.

Linked Open Dime Novels; or, 19th Century Fiction and 21st Century Data: a talk given at Code4Lib 2016 in Philadelphia by Demian Katz and Matthew Short about the technical infrastructure for sharing metadata

Dime Novels Are Finding A New Audience in the Digital Age: WNIJ (NPR) interview with Matthew Short and Lynne Thomas

University Libraries awarded more than $448,000 for digitization project: article in NIU Today

NIU Library Joins #ColorOurCollections Campaign: a short article and interview about NIU's #ColorOurCollection coloring book of dime novel illustrations, featured on WNIJ Northern Public Radio.

The Edward T. LeBlanc Memorial Dime Novel Bibliography (

The Edward T. LeBlanc Dime Novel Bibliography, led by Demian Katz at Villanova University, "aims to create a comprehensive online database of dime novels, story papers, reprint library and repated materials." With the permission of the LeBlanc familty, the project is using his extensively-researched 13-volume bibliography as a foundation for data entry. The online bibliography will also incorporate data from other sources, including bibliographic records from Nickels and Dimes and article-level indexing provided by volunteers and Johannsen Project staff members. Relationships between editions, stories, and people, as well as the contents of all story papers, displayed on this site are provided by For more information about the project or to get involved in volunteering, contact Demian Katz.

House of Beadle & Adams Online

The Beadle and Adams Dime Novel Digitization Project was a pre-cursor to the Albert Johannsen Project, intended to serve as a framework for digitizing the Johannsen collection, while also making Johannsen's bibliography available online. Between 1999 and 2003, NIU keyed the entire three-volume bibliography in HTML. Although the site has not been updated in almost 7 years, the long-term goal is to add all of the bibliography's data to, where it can then be incorporated directly into Nickels and Dimes. The site will remain online until such time as the volumes themselves can be scanned and made available on this site.