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Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' (1915-1976) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' (1915-1976)

Historical Note:

The Haldeman-Julius 'Little Blue Books' were published at the Girard Publishing Plant in Girard, Kansas from 1915-1975.  Though they were at first covered in paper of differing colors, by mid-1921 the books were produced with a plain blue exterior from whence their name derives.  They were printed in standardized lengths of 32, 64, 96, or 128 pages, in keeping with the limitations of the presses used in the Girard plant. 

The series was aimed at "Mr. Average Man," and so the books were very reasonably priced from the outset, first costing $0.25, and later, when production was at its peak, only $0.05 per book.  Both re-printed classics and original works were included, and were referred to as a "University in Print" by Haldeman-Julius.  The series' creator, Emanuel Haldeman-Julius, directed their production for 32 years, during which time 500 million Little Blue Books, representing more than two thousand different titles, were printed in his factory for distribution across the country.  They were at the height of their popularity under his direction in the 1920s and 30s.

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius was born in Philadelphia in 1889, then named Emanuel Julius.  In 1916 he married Marcet Haldeman, an enthusiastic women's rights supporter, and upon their marriage the couple decided to hyphenate their last name.  Marcet Haldeman-Julius died in 1941, Emanuel in 1951, and so the couple's son, Henry, who by then had shortened his last name to "Haldeman," took control of the Blue Book business in 1954.  He ran it with varying degrees of success for many years, but production volume and sales were never as great as they were in the 1920s, when "Little Blue Book" was a household phrase.

Note Author: Ellen E. Jarosz

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