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Street & Smith Records

An inventory of their records at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: [Summit record]
Date: 26 Jul 1995

Biographical History

Street & Smith, or Street and Smith Publications, Inc., was a New York City publisher specializing in inexpensive paperbacks, magazines, and comic books. Founded in 1855 by Francis Scott Street and Francis Shubael Smith, most of their publications were of the type known as "pulp fiction" and "dime novels."

Among its pulp fiction periodicals, Street & Smith published adventure and sea stories (Air Trails, Do and Dare Weekly, Red Raven Library, Sea Stories Magazine, Tiptop Weekly); detective and mystery stories (Clues, Doc Savage, Mystery Story Magazine, Nick Carter Weekly, Old Broadbrim Weekly, The Shadow); romances (Love Story Magazine, Romance Range); science fiction (Astounding Stories, Unknown); sports stories (All-Sports Library, Athlete); westerns (Buffalo Bill Stories, True Western Stories, Pete Rice Magazine, Western Story Magazine, Wild West Weekly); and young adult fiction (The Boys of the World, Bowery Boy Weekly, Live Girl Stories, My Queen). Many of the authors from Street & Smith's periodicals found their way onto the pages of the publisher's dime novels, which were issued in various series, including the Arrow, Bertha Clay, Eagle, Magnet, Medal, and Merriwell libraries. But perhaps the most successful of the dime novels were those issued in the Alger Series, the volumes of which promoted the comforting notion that virtue is invariably rewarded by wealth. (These rags-to-riches tales became so embedded in American popular culture that reference to a "Horatio Alger story" became synonymous with the realization of the American dream.) Street & Smith comic adventurers included Bill Barnes, Buffalo Bill, Doc Savage, the Red Dragon, and artist R.F. Outcault's Yellow Kid, whose first appearance in the New York World in 1895 marked the birth of American comics. Although Street & Smith specialized in pulp fiction periodicals and dime novels, it also published non-fiction periodicals for hobbyists (Air Progress, Air Trails Pictorial, American Modeler, Science World); movie-goers (Picture-Play Weekly); sports enthusiasts (Pic, Sport Pictorial, and Baseball, Basketball and Football Yearbooks); and women (Mademoiselle, You)

In 1937 Street & Smith began shrinking their line of pulp titles, ending that genre completely in 1949. In 1957 Street & Smith sold their remaining magazine titles to Conde Nast, which acquired the rest of their copyright in 2007.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

Spanning 1864 to 1971, the Street & Smith Records document the history of the New York City publisher of pulp fiction and general interest publications. Reflecting the wide assortment of these publications, the Street & Smith Records have been divided into three parts: Editorial Files by Title, which relate to periodical or established uniform titles (a "uniform title" is a collective title used to encompass publications from several different works -- e.g., "Nick Carter titles" encompasses titles from the Nick Carter Library, Magnet Library, and Nick Carter radio series); Miscellaneous Editorial Files, mostly arranged by format, which refer to books-in-series publications and/or records which are associated with more than one periodical title; and Indexes, contained author, title, subject, and other indexes for many of Street & Smith's titles.

Editorial files by title

Characterized by multiple title changes, the Street & Smith periodicals reflected, over the course of their publication history, the changing tastes of their readership. Arranged alphabetically, and most closely focused on the 1930s and '40s, the Editorial Files by Title (Boxes 1-39) gather together all of the documents relating to a particular periodical and the subsequent titles in its volume numbering sequence under the publication's first title. The exception to this arrangement was the establishment of uniform titles for Horatio Alger Jr. and Nick Carter materials, both of which contain original manuscripts as well as a variety of other specialized documents. Beginning with Ainslee's (later Ainslee's/Smart Love Stories and subsequently, Smart Love Stories), the records encompass a variety of acquisition records and financial documents which include chronologically arranged manuscripts purchase cards as well as art and manuscript vouchers, which came into use in the late 1930s. Voucher numbers and, less often, payment amounts are often indicated on the annotated Tables of Contents, which accompany most titles and are found at the end of each group of documents relating to a particular title sequence. Manuscript submissions for each periodical are arranged by title and most often followed by the name of the author as it appears on the piece. Authorship discrepancies are noted and, when discernible, pseudonyms are provided. An example of the organizational pattern follows:

Editorial practices varied among the different periodical titles, but were usually consistent within any given title sequence. A few editors habitually retained an additional copy of the voucher with its corresponding manuscript, while others signified acquisition or payment with printed and/or perforated stamps, the retention of separate notes, or by writing directly on the manuscript. Editorial comment, both in extent and quality, also varies from one periodical title to the next. Some of the manuscripts for particular periodical titles have been copyedited, a few are accompanied by reader reports which discuss potential suitability for publication, while others bear the terse but definitive notation "Impossible." Such variations in editorial practice may suggest a degree of autonomy for Street & Smith's periodical editors, or at the very least, a lack of consistent adherence to established norms.

Despite evidence that Street & Smith loosely controlled editorial practice, documentation suggests that accounting principles were strictly enforced. Annual (and occasionally more frequently produced) inventories of charged or written off manuscripts and artwork accompany nearly every group of documents associated with a particular periodical. Periodical editors were accountable for each manuscript purchase that was unpublished. In addition, having purchased a particular manuscript, Street & Smith circulated it repeatedly, sometimes over the course of several decades and among various editors, with the hope that one or another could be enticed to use it. The inventories of charged off manuscripts also attest to the re- assignment of manuscripts to different periodicals, and are frequently annotated with suggestions that another editor might find a particular submission suitable for inclusion in his publications. It should be noted that the preponderance of manuscripts among the editorial files are those which had been written off repeatedly before publication, and that many were never used. However, given its vast array of periodicals and their frequency of publication, Street & Smith retained relatively few manuscript purchases that weren't eventually published.

In addition to the manuscripts related to specific periodicals, the collection also has a large assortment of material which Street & Smith gathered under the term Miscellaneous manuscripts. These submissions, which include poems, fiction, non-fiction, and even a sketchbook, were neither produced for, nor assigned to, a particular periodical. A few of these manuscripts bear tentative assignments to specific periodical titles, however those same manuscript titles are listed among the Miscellaneous manuscripts inventories and remain under the heading designated by Street & Smith. There are also a number of published stories, many of which originally appeared in The Popular Magazine, which were collected under the auspices of the Motion Picture Department to promote their potential for production as films.

Miscellaneous editorial files

Illuminating both the internal structure of the company as well as its day-to-day publishing operations, the Miscellaneous Editorial Files (Boxes 40-42) mostly relate to weeklies and books-in-series and include the earliest documentation (i.e. Record books 1864-1936) for Street & Smith. Bent upon cornering the fiction market for the expanding literate population, the company systematically made purchases of the plate stock of a number of its competitors, acquiring such established series as The Ledger Library and The Popular Series (Bonner's Sons ), and Golden Hours and the Old Cap. Collier Library (N.L. Munro). Plate stock inventories and orders document the successes and the problems associated with such wholesale acquisition. As witness to the importance of the loyalty of its readership to the success of the publishing business, Critiques indicate the financial pressure to assign acquired material to existing Street & Smith vehicles. Recognizing the widely-held marketing axiom that readers enjoy encountering the same formula repeatedly, Street & Smith not only published similar genre stories, but also re-issued the material which first appeared in its weeklies in other periodicals and as books. The disbound notebook of the Inventory of series as well as the Record books provide evidence that, in an effort to deplete its surplus stock, Street & Smith frequently released a given story under more than one title merely by binding with a new cover and title page. Memoranda concerning the internal inquiries and reports about stock illustrate the publisher's commitment to respond quickly to the needs of its customers. A 1939-1940 notebook compilation of information on its competitors and distributors testifies to Street & Smith's resolve to remain at the forefront of American publishing.

In addition, the Miscellaneous Editorial Files contain documentation relating to Chelsea House books and authors, manuscript transferrals between periodicals, and copyright renewals for various series (Border, Eagle, Great Western, Magnet, Merriwell). Financial material encompasses miscellaneous (i.e. those not related to a particular periodical) art and manuscripts vouchers, arranged by originator or author. For both its internal record- keeping and in answer to queries from authors, readers, and collectors, Street & Smith compiled lists of authors' stories, which are arranged alphabetically. Conscious of the need for publicity, the publisher issued various types of promotional material, including catalogs and price lists (1899-1940) and also generated lists of newspapers for review copies. A series of 21 photographs (ca. 1906) document the exterior and interior of the 79 Seventh Avenue building from which Street & Smith ran its operations from 1905. Perhaps the most poignant items of the collection are the 1949 clippings from The New Yorker and The New York Times which note the suspension of pulp fiction publishing by The Greatest Publishing House in the World, the title of Street & Smith's 50th anniversary commemorative booklet.

The 13 record books in box 42 contain predominantly publishing and statistical information on Street and Smith weeklies and books-in-series publications between 1864 and 1936. Pagination occasionally varies (Record Books 12, 13), and there is some overlapping and duplication of information from one record book to another. Blank pages have not been filmed. Prepared for the specialized needs of the publisher, the first volume has running series titles with column headings for issue number, date of publication, author (with space for "nom de plume"), title, and sub-title. Later record books were originally accounting ledgers, for which column headings have been changed and/or added by hand. Entered in ink as well as pencil, the variations in handwriting, as well as legibility, indicate that the notations were recorded by several different individuals. While the series are arranged in numerical and publishing sequence, the lists may be continued in the same or subsequent record books.

Although not usually noted in the record books, when title changes occur within a weekly series, all the titles represented by that title sequence and their corresponding numbers (which sometimes extend beyond the contents of that particular record book) are provided. The periodical titles used here are from the covers of the publications; other titles may appear on the Contents pages or as running titles. The use of brackets for both weeklies and books-in-series publications represents an attempt to standardize the working titles used in the record books.

The date range indicated for each record book is approximate.


Supplementing, and in some cases duplicating, the information contained in these editorial files, the Library holds 196 card file drawers; these Indexes comprise manuscript tracer forms, author and title indexes for various periodicals, payment verification with reference to voucher numbers, printers' records, copyright status reports, and reprint notations. Indexes are in two different types of containers. The first 30 are in cardboard boxes and are labelled CB-1 through CB-30. The second batch are (or were originally) in metal file drawers; these are labelled M-21 through M-166. Two of the M file drawers (M-23 and M-24) are missing and three (M-22, M-26, M-91) are empty. Extent is given in inches, referring to how many inches of the drawer the index makes up. Most indexes are arranged alphabetically, but some are chronological and some are not arranged at all. An index's location within the drawer is indicated by a slash followed by a number; for example, "M-24/2" indicates that the index is the second run of cards in file drawer M-24.

Arrangement of the Collection

See above.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

NO BOUND PERIODICALS MAY BE PHOTOCOPIED due to brittle paper. Digital photos are permitted with appropriate paperwork.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Materials are available for research and reference only. All copyrights are retained by Conde Nast Publications Inc.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center also houses the Street & Smith Archive of Chelsea House imprints, periodical, serial, and books-in-series publications, 16 mm films of The Shadow, and radio scripts for the American, Australian, and South American broadcasts of The Avenger, Doc Savage, Chick Carter, Nick Carter, and Sonny Tabor series. The Library also holds scrapbooks of clippings and other memorabilia relating to Street & Smith as well as a group of publications collected by the publisher. Please visit the Street & Smith Project website for more detailed information, including links to our extensive collection of digitized material from the collection.

Subject Headings

Corporate Bodies

Street and Smith Publications, Archives.

Associated Titles

Chick Carter boy detective (Radio program)
Doc Savage (Radio program)
Doc Savage.
New Nick Carter weekly.
Nick Carter (Radio program)
Nick Carter weekly.
Shadow (Radio program)
Shadow comics.
Shadow magazine.
Yellow kid.


Adventure stories, American -- Periodicals.
Comic books, strips, etc. -- United States.
Detective and mystery stories, American -- Periodicals.
Dime novels -- Specimens.
Periodicals -- Publishing.
Popular culture -- United States.
Popular literature -- Publishing.
Publishers and publishing -- United States.
Radio serials.
Science fiction, American -- Periodicals.
Western stories -- Periodicals.

Genres and Forms

Manuscripts for publication.
Radio scripts.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Street & Smith Records
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents

Editorial Files (by title)

Miscellaneous editorial Files