Special Collections Spotlight: Science Fiction Pulp Magazines

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains a variety of science fiction pulp magazines. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheaply made wood pulp paper. Pulp magazines initially contained a variety of different genres of fiction, including mystery and adventure genres, but in the 1920s magazines devoted to science fiction began to appear more frequently. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes, highlighting technology, space travel, otherworldly creatures, scientific innovation, and unexplored environments.

Some of the pulps such as Air Wonder Stories attempted to provide educational value to their stories by basing them on accurate scientific principles. Other titles, such as Astounding Stories of Super-Science, focused on providing the best price value with high page counts and low prices. The addition of letter columns in pulp magazines helped the fandom surrounding the genre grow as fans began to reach out to the addresses published alongside the letters. As science fiction progressed into the 1930s and 1940s, stories began to place a greater emphasis on plot and characterization. This collection’s titles include multi-genre pulps like The Strand and pulps devoted solely to science fiction such as Stirring Science Stories. Early titles featured stories written by H.G. Wells, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexander Pushkin, and Jules Verne.

The collection contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps from 12 different title families. The pulps were published between 1891 and 1990, with the majority published between 1930 and 1961.

Explore the Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines finding aid.

To view any Science Fiction Pulp Magazines in the collection visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

The Strange and Fantastical World of Sci-Fi Pulp Advertisements, Part 1

Looking for a patriotic glow-in-the-dark necktie? How about a convenient portable garage? Can we interest you in a futuristic Sony micro TV? These are just a few of the interesting product advertisements that can be found throughout our Science Fiction Pulp Magazine collection in the Literature and Rare Books collection.

The Howard and Jane Frank Collection of Science Fiction Pulp Magazines contains 365 volumes of Sci-Fi pulps, with the majority being published between 1903 and 1961. Pulp magazines were inexpensive popular fiction works published from the late 1800s through the mid-1900s, characteristically printed on cheap wood pulp paper. Science fiction pulp magazines typically featured colorful cover art, along with short stories that embraced futuristic and fantasy themes. Within the pages of these magazines are also a multitude of advertisements that provide a glimpse into consumerism, novelty, and American life through the decades.

A common theme in pulp magazine advertisement is asking readers to send away for products in the mail. One example below is the handy “10 tools in one” multi-tool featured in a 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories. Simply cut out the coupon and send in $1 to receive your own “small but handy article which serves every possible need of the all around mechanic.”

Pistol sling-shots for $1, humless radio tubes, a Dick Tracey radio watch sure to catch the attention of comic book fans, and prize money for the eagle eyed reader who can spot the identical cartoons can all be found within the pages of Air Wonder Stories and Fantastic Adventures in the 1930s and 1940s.

Magic tricks and small novelties such as the “ooh-la- la ring”, a lumnous skeleton, a “wizarddeck” of cards, invisible ink, and the curious “nose blower” could be sent away for as little as 10 cents. The full page advertisement below from the February 1930 issue of Air Wonder Stories, features more than two dozen of these small prizes, likely targeting young readers awed by fantastical sci-fi stories and inventions, looking to spend some pocket change.

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Special Collections Spotlight: French Pamphlet collection

The French Pamphlet collection documents significant events and periods in French history throughout the 17th-20th centuries. It contains approximately 9,600 pamphlets pertaining to public figures, political events, foreign relations, religion, and conflict. The pamphlets are an invaluable resource for the insight they provide into their contemporary conversations, social climates, and ways of thought.

The largest part of the collection is made up of over 5,700 pamphlets and includes government publications from the first ten years of the French Revolution, over 1,700 decrees and laws published from 1789 to 1795, and documents France’s involvement with the Middle East, centering on the conflict with the Ottoman Empire, 1900-1924, among other topics of interest. Pamphlets and other printed ephemera also became more common on the eve of the Revolution when the old system of royal regulation of printing and bookselling collapsed. The pamphlets document these important periods of transition.

Explore the French Pamphlet collection finding aid.

We also have fully digitized items from the French pamphlet collection in the Internet Archive.

To view any French pamphlets in Special Collections visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextu

Special Collections Spotlight: Girls’ Series Books

The Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books consists of 300 books published from 1917-2005, with a large portion published from 1930 to 1969. “Series books” are books that consistently feature the same protagonist. However unlike “books in a series”, the characters in “series books” seldom mature, age, or change. The protagonist in a “girls’ series” book is usually a girl in her late teens or early twenties who goes on adventures on her own or with a small group of friends around her age. The heroines of girls’ series usually had an interesting career such as an amateur sleuth, a nurse, or a stewardess. Girls’ series books were often disparaged for their formulaic plots and the cheap manufacture of the books themselves.

The majority of books in this collection were donated by Elissa Pangani in honor of her parents Rose and Joseph Pangani. The collection includes series such as the Nancy Drew Mystery Series, the Cherry Ames Nurse Stories, the Dana Girls Mystery Stories, and the Vicki Barr Flight Stewardess Series.

Explore the Rose and Joseph Pangani Collection of Girls’ Series Books finding aid.

To view any Girls’ Series Books in Special Collections visit the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library or if you have any questions, please contact us!


What is a finding aid?

A finding aid is a description of the contents of a collection, similar to a table of contents you would find in a book. A collection’s contents are often grouped logically and describe the group of items within each folder. You rarely find descriptions of the individual items within collections. Finding aids also contain information about the size and scope of collections. Additional contextual information may also be included.

New Exhibit: Rare Book Pollinators

We’re celebrating the bees, birds, bats, and butterflies that help feed our planet with a selection of works on our favorite pollinators from the Literature and Rare Books Collection with a new exhibit in the Maryland Room.

Pollination is the act of transferring pollen grains from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma. Flowers rely on their surrounding environment to move pollen from one flower to another, this can include wind, water, birds, insects, butterflies, bats, and other animals that visit flowers. Animals or insects that transfer pollen from plant to plant are called “pollinators”.

Hummingbirds and butterflies are important in wildflower pollination, while plants in tropical and desert climates depend on bats for pollination. Bees are vital for agriculture, helping to pollinate a multitude of crops including apples, melons, and pumpkins. 

Did you know? 1 in 3 bites of food you consume every day exists solely because of pollinators. Coffee, chocolate, avocados, almonds, bananas, tequila (agave), apples, kiwi, strawberries, lemons, and more!

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Digital Exhibit Celebrates Voting and 100 Years of Women’s Suffrage

Thanks to the Society of American Archivists’ Women’s Collections Section for allowing us to share our exhibition!

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This post was written by Laura Cleary, Instruction and Outreach Librarian at the University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. Some of the text in this post was adapted from the Get Out the Vote exhibition.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of 15th amendment granting African American suffrage and the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women suffrage, the University of Maryland Libraries created an exhibition to explore the history of voting rights in the United States of America. Debates over who had the right to vote, the mechanisms and timing of elections, and who is eligible to run for office have raged for hundreds of years. Barriers to voting have led many to advocate for a more representative electorate and to encourage greater participation in local, state, and national elections. At the heart of the fight for voting rights are these advocates and grassroot organizations who…

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History of Special Collections and University Archives

University Records and Library Collections, 1856-1940

For the first 100 years of the University’s history, the administrative records of the university were preserved, if at all, outside of the control of librarians or archivists. Beginning in 1856 with the founding of the Maryland Agricultural College (now the University of Maryland), the records of the college administrators were informally kept, mainly in the offices of the President and Treasurer, but also in various departments on campus. But their existence was significant enough to be noted in 1912, when many of the records were burned in the great fire that swept through the Barracks and Administration Building.1

Salvaging University records and other items from the 1912 fire of the Administration Building, University of Maryland Print Files (Series 5, Box 2, Folder 4), “Maryland Agricultural College fire.”
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Explore Rare Books at UMD: Eikon Basilike LibGuide

Special Collections is highlighting an interesting collection within our Rare Books collection. If you would like to learn about 17th century English politics, banned books, biography and representation, printing, and the power of a text over time, we have a subject guide for you! The Eikon Basilike guide gives an overview of the editions and resources on the Eikon Basilike that are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

The Pourtrature of His Sacred Majestie in His Solitudes and Sufferings, more commonly know as the Eikon Basilike, was an autobiography attributed to King Charles I of England. It was published several days after the King was beheaded by Parliament in the aftermath of the English Civil War and painted the former King as a martyr. The frontispiece depicts Charles I the night before his execution and is full of symbolic imagery. The commonwealth government tried to suppress this royalist propaganda, but were ultimately unsuccessful in their efforts to ban the Eikon Basilike.

To view the various editions of Eikon Basilike in Special Collections search our catalog or if you have any questions, please contact us!

Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

New Resource: LibGuide on Fine Press Books in Special Collections

Special Collections is highlighting the selection of Fine Press books within the Literature and Rare Books collections with a new subject guide, Fine Press Books in Special Collections! If you would like to learn more about fine press books but aren’t sure where to start, we have a solution. The guide highlights material created by various Fine Presses that are available in the Maryland Room in Hornbake Library.

Beginning in the late 19th century, artists, authors, and craftsmen of the Fine Press movement took care and consideration in the elements of a book. Attention was given to the typography, design, illustration, printing and binding of fine press books. The Fine Press movement produced beautifully crafted books, often in small print-runs of high quality, designed and crafted by individuals or small businesses.

For more resources on Fine Press Books search our catalog or if you have any questions, please contact us!

Victoria Vera is a graduate student in the Masters of Library and Information Sciences program at UMD and a student assistant in the Literature and Rare Books Collections, Special Collections and University Archives.

New Exhibit: The Revolution Will be Printed – Graphic Arts as Activism

The Revolution Will be Printed: Graphic Arts as Activism is a celebration of printed works that drive social change through celebration, critique, and creation. To kick off this exhibit, I am thinking about artwork created for two different printed newspapers in Hornbake’s holdings, El Malcriado and the AFL-CIO News that cover the Delano Grape Strike.

In protest against poor pay and working conditions, over 800 farmworkers agreed to strike and walked off their jobs in the grape fields of Delano, California in September 1965. The strike leaders were Filipino members of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). They reached out to the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA) for support. The NFWA membership, whose leaders included César Chávez and Dolores Huerta, voted in overwhelming favor of striking. The AWOC and the NFWA then became the United Farm Workers of America (UFW) union.

El Malcriado was established by César Chávez as the unofficial newspaper of the UFW (United Farmworkers of America) in 1964. It was titled after a rallying cry from the Mexican Revolution and was printed first in Spanish and then in English as well (1910-1920). The woodcuts, engravings, and pen-and-ink drawings for El Malcriado continue a Mexican-American (Chicano/a/x) graphic arts tradition.

This cover by Frank Cieciorka brings together cultivation and cultural heritage. Agricultural labor is brought back to ancient practice through the prominence of maize and the integration of Mesoamerican sculpture and architecture. Cieciorka is also known for the woodcut print of the fist that graced countless posters and buttons at demonstrations throughout the 1960s. 

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