In dime novels of the American West from the 1860s to the 1880s, boy characters evolved from hapless sidekicks to the heroes of their own stories. And in American detective serials from the early 1900s, young prodigies replaced their older mentors as protagonists. This rise of the boy hero in U.S. popular fiction coincided with the emergence of an adolescent male demographic; but it also occurred at a turbulent historical period when the frontier was closing and young Americans were turning a critical eye towards their own society.

This exhibit focuses on American dime fiction from 1860-1910 - and particularly the development of the boy hero - as a way to understand how America’s emerging mass culture acted both as an outlet for popular frustrations and a reinscription of the status quo.

You can click About for more information on this exhibit and Haverford Libraries’ Dime Novel Collection; Cover Gallery to browse cover images from Beadle's Frontier Series and Old Broadbrim; or Exhibit to proceed to the exhibit.