In March 1919, socialist publisher Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, of Girard, Kansas, began publishing what would become the Little Blue Books. Girard had been a major location of socialist and Free Thought publishing since the 1890s, and the home of the Appeal to Reason, the nation’s largest socialist newspaper. Haldeman-Julius took over the Appeal in 1919 and shortly thereafter began publishing the small, inexpensive pocket sized booklets on a variety of subjects and titles. During the course of his career, which spanned over thirty years, Haldeman-Julius printed and sold an estimated 500,000,000+ Little Blue Books, with over 2000 different titles. His death in 1951 ended the publishing dynasty he built in the small Southeast Kansas town.
Haldeman-Julius, with help from his wife Marcet, revolutionized, if not created, mass-market publishing, making his products affordable to all. He also pushed the boundaries of publishing norms by being one of the earliest publishers to publish sexual education information. He popularized the self-help/improvement book, and was among the earliest to decry racial segregation and was the first to publish African-American literature anthologies. He also first printed the philosophical works of Will Durant in the Little Blue Book series.
In observance of the 100th anniversary of the Little Blue Books, Pittsburg State University will hold a two day symposium: The Little Blue Books at 100: Haldeman-Julius’s Revolutionary Publishing Venture on March 29-30, 2019, at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas. We invite proposals for individual papers (including undergraduate and graduate-level papers) that explore the phenomenon of The Little Blue Books, and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. Further, we have listed a series of special session topics to which you may propose an individual contribution. These topics include, but are not limited to,
- Emanuel Haldeman-Julius
- Marcet Haldeman-Julius
- Haldeman-Julius’s Publishing and Marketing Measures
- The Socialist Press of Girard, Kansas
- Little Blue Books as Textbooks
- The Writers of the Little Blue Books
- Series found within the Little Blue Books
- The Legacy of the Little Blue Books
- Publishing Aspects of the Little Blue Books
- Little Blue Books as Literature
- Little Blue Books: Socialist Literature or Open-Minded/Free-Thinking Literature?
Individual papers will be between 25-30 minutes in presentation length. Please send proposals of no more than 250 words for individual papers and panel sessions, plus a one-page CV as Word or PDF attachment, to: firstname.lastname@example.org by September 21, 2018. For more information, please visit: http://libguides.pittstate.edu/Haldeman-Julius_Symposium.
Please direct any questions you may have to me at email@example.com - Steve Cox