Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Russel B. Nye Popular Culture Collection

Levels of Collecting Intensity

A. Comic Art.

See separate Comic Art collection development 


B. Popular Fiction.

Popular fiction in the collection is organized into six major categories: Juvenile, detective-mystery, science fiction, westerns,  women's/romance fiction and gay/lesbian pulp fiction.   In addition, there is a sample collection of dime novels and story papers. 

1. Juvenile Fiction

Emphasis is on juvenile series fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with nearly 200 girls and over 300 boys series represented. Nineteenth and twentieth-century "Sunday School" books and periodicals, and both fiction and non-fiction scouting books are also included.

Gifts will be considered in all these areas.

Collecting intensity: 1.

2. Western Fiction

An exceptionally fine institutional collection almost all hardbound and in dust jackets published between 1900-1950, and nearly 500 pulp magazine issues representing more than fifty titles. The most important pulp runs are Street and Smith's Western Story Magazine and Warner Publications' Ranch Romances.

No purchases planned. Gifts may be accepted on a case by case basis.

Collecting intensity: 1.

3. Women's/Romance Fiction

Circa 4,000 novels and almost 1,500 issues of romance, confession, and movie magazines and pulps from the 1920's through 1995. Most of the novels are in the romance category, with over 3,000 Harlequin novels, a good representation of other modern best-selling romances, and several dozen from late nineteenth-century romance series.

No future purchases are planned. Harlequin novels and romance/confession magazines may be accepted as gifts on a case by case basis.

Collecting intensity: 1.

4. Science Fiction

A strong and nationally recognized collection built primarily through gifts and donation. For many years, MSU was a depository for the Science Fiction Writers of America, which contributed review copies of new books. A large part of the collection is periodicals, with over 150 titles represented. Most issues come from the 1930's to the present. The collection subscribes to most major science fiction magazines and holds a fanzine collection.

All gifts which do not duplicate current holdings, including fanzines and foreign language science fiction, will be accepted.

Some science fiction is acquired for Browsing/Main primarily based on request and budget priorities.

Collecting intensity: 1.

5. Detective-Mystery Fiction

Hardcover and paperback books published primarily between 1920-1990. Complete runs of the London Mystery Magazines and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine are included, along with a large sample collection of the more sensational detective and crime fiction magazines from the thirties through the present.

No purchases planned. Gifts may be accepted, particularly crime fiction magazines, on a case by case basis.

Collecting intensity: 1.

6. Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Transgender Fiction

Mostly pulp paperback fiction published between 1950 and to the present. About two-thirds of these titles were written for a gay male audience. Of those with lesbian themes, some were written by lesbians (often under a male or neutral pseudonym) for lesbians; others were marketed to a mixed audience. The collection has many titles which represent the gay/lesbian small presses. Many titles are genre fiction: romance, western, science fiction, or detective fiction featuring gay men or lesbians. The collection also includes about a hundred volumes of transvestite/transsexual fiction, mostly dating from the late 1980's to the present.

Donations are welcomed.

Collecting intensity: 2.


C. Popular Information

Books and periodicals. Almanacs, Blue Books, and works popularizing knowledge or offering self-help and how-to advice published between 1850 to the present.   In addition to almanacs and Blue Books, Popular Information includes books of advice on etiquette, life and love, how-to-succeed books, popular history, science and biography, and public school textbooks from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Special Collections is currently acquiring and building a collection of almanacs dating back to the 17th century, as well as etiquette, advice, and success manuals published by religious published houses. General advice, etiquette, and books on sexuality are being solicited. 

A representative number of twentieth century American textbooks are collected in the fields of health, social studies, and literature.

Gifts in Popular Information may be accepted on a case by case basis.

Collecting intensity: 3.


D. Popular Performing Arts

Books and periodicals relating to popular theatre, music, television, radio, and film. Television and film are best represented. A significant collection of primary materials relating to the tent show includes photographs, financial and other records of the Henderson Stock Company, correspondence, leaflets, handbills, and other ephemera from many of the companies playing in the upper Midwest in the twenties and thirties, and photocopies of 250 tent show scripts.

Gifts may be accepted on a case by case basis.

Collecting intensity: 2.


E. Popular Culture Vertical Files (PCVF)

Filling over eight vertical file cabinets, the PCVF offers researchers information on a wide assortment of popular culture topics. All material is donated.

Collecting intensity: 2.