Selected Special Collections
Pulp Fiction Collection
Popular American fiction magazines, 1920s-1950s
The Pulp Fiction collection at the Library of Congress consists of issues received on copyright deposit at the time of their publication. It is described in Annette Melville's "Special Collections in the Library of Congress: A Selective Guide" (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1980). A great majority of the issues were held by the Serial and Government Publications Division, although three extremely rare and valuable titles were transferred to the Rare Book & Special Collections Division: Amazing Stories, Black Mask, and Weird Tales. The collection has now been microfilmed and is available in the Microform Reading Room, LJ-107, Jefferson Building.
The "Pulps," so called because they were printed on cheap high-acid-content paper, served as popular reading material, similar to today's paperback; cheap, portable, disposable, and often sensational. This genre flourished from the 1920's to the 1950's. Titles focused on specific literary types: romance, sports, western, detective, science fiction, horror, or military (during World War II). Writers were frequently paid by the word, and to meet daily living expenses, well-known authors sometimes wrote for these magazines under pseudonyms, putting only their "literary" work under their real name.
Authors who got their start by writing for pulp fiction magazines include: Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich, Dashiell Hammett, H.P. Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard.
Also see: The Newspaper and Periodical Reading Room's collection of Pulp Fiction,
Also see: The Inventory of Pulp Magazines