No. 428
Crime, Eccentricity, and the Sporting Life in 19th Century America.
June 19, 2019

Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Satan's sure-ruin traps - half-dime novels, five and ten cent story papers, and low-priced pamphlets
November 14, 2015
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Via Newspapers.com All right, let's talk phantom cows. From the "Ellsworth Reporter," November 8, 1888: A farmer named Burt B.. living in the bottoms between Kansas City Kansas, and Quindaro, tells of a peculiar annoyance which he has with what he claims is a phantom cow. According to the story which he tells, and in which his family acquiesce, a large brindle cow of his dairy got into
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Strange Company - 6/19/2019

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Dressing Miss Lizzie, which is a paper doll book featuring Lizzie’s garments described in newspapers of 1892 -1893 is now …

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Lizzie Borden: Warps and Wefts - 5/30/2019

On this date in 2013, Li Xingpong, the former deputy Communist Party chief of Yongcheng city, Henan, was executed for a spree of child rapes. He reportedly exploited his position to take advantage of a number of schoolgirls, and exploited his position to cover it up — growing so bold that he was finally arrested […]
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Executed Today - 6/19/2019
Jeff and Joe Soapy Smith buries Joe Simmons The Illustrated Police News April 9, 1892 (Click image to enlarge) oe Simmons was a tall, slender gambler known to many as “Gambler Joe” Simmons, a member of the Soap Gang who managed Soapy Smith's Tivoli Club in Denver, 1890, and Soapy's Orleans Club in Creede, 1892. According to William Devere’s poem "Two Little Busted Shoes," Simmons
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Soapy Smith's Soap Box - 3/25/2019
Two children playing near their house in Greenwich, New York, the morning of Saturday, October 20, 1889, found a woman’s hat and jacket lying on a log and reported them to a group of men who were working on a road nearby. Reuben Stewart, Superintendent of Streets who was also President of the Village, thought the circumstances were suspicious and went down to take a look for himself. It was a
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Murder By Gaslight - 6/15/2019

I’m not sure which Brooklyn beach this is—Brighton? Coney Island? Wherever we are, it’s clear that this tight circle of ladies in their summer frocks and elaborate hats appears to be enjoying the seashore. So is the next group, a coed clique with two men wearing what look like dark hats and suits! [Bettman-Corbis, 1900]
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Ephemeral New York - 6/16/2019
[Editor’s note: Guest writer, Peter Dickson, lives in West Sussex, England and has been working with microfilm copies of The Duncan Campbell Papers from the State Library of NSW, Sydney, Australia. The following are some of his analyses of what he has discovered from reading these papers. Dickson has contributed many transcriptions to the Jamaica Family […]
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Early American Crime - 2/7/2019
Fierce Football. | Fighting Marines.

Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Modern News Stand

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Half-dime Novels and Story Papers.

Satan stirred up certain of his willing tools on earth by the promise of a few paltry dollars to improve greatly in the death-dealing quality of the weekly death-traps, and forthwith came a new series of new snares of fascinating construction, small and tempting in price, and baited with high sounding names. These sure-ruin traps comprise a new variety of half-dime novels, five and ten cent story papers, and low-priced pamphlets for boys and girls.

This class includes the silly, insipid tale, the coarse, slangy story in the dialect of the barroom, the blood-and-thunder romance of border life, and the exaggerated details of crimes, real and imaginary. Some have highly colored sensational reports of real crimes, while others, and by far the larger number, deal with most improbable creations of fiction. The unreal far outstrips the real. Crimes are gilded, and lawlessness is painted to resemble valor, making a bid for bandits, brigands, murderers, thieves, and criminals in general. Who would go to the State prison, the gambling saloon, or the brothel to find a suitable companion for the child? Yet a more insidious foe is selected when these stories are allowed to become associates of the child’s mind and to shape and direct the thoughts.


From: Comstock, Anthony. Traps for the Young. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1883.