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Grrrl Power! Or, How Stella Fought the Cattle War

Stella fought a cattle war in 1907's "King of the Wild West's Cattle War or Stella's Bout with the Rival Ranchers."

Zora Neale Hurston, half-length portrait, standing, facing front, looking at book, American Stuff, at New York Times Book Fair Gordon Parks, photographer. ?Portrait of Langston Hughes,? 1943

Stella's adventures were part of a publishing phenomenon called the "dime novel." The genre originated in 1860, offering a wealth of popular fiction at an inexpensive price (often less than a dime). Early dime novels, first printed in orange wrapper papers, were patriotic, often nationalistic tales of encounters between Indians and backwoods settlers. By the mid-1890s, bold color covers depicting scenes of bloodshed and courage appealed to a mostly adolescent audience.

Many of these dime novels have been featured in the "American Treasures" exhibition at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/treasures/tri015.html. The Library has accumulated a collection of nearly 40,000 titles, including "Female Trapper, or Lone Star Lizzie," a dime novel about another empowered woman. "American Treasures" is a permanent exhibition in the Library's Jefferson Building whose objects are periodically changed to make way for other items. However, all the items exhibited in "American Treasures" can be viewed online at any time.

Dime novels often romanticized the frontier for readers young and old. Russia was the setting for some of these works, such as "The Boy Exiles of Siberia or, the Watch-Dog of Russia," and "Nadia, the Russian Spy or, the Brothers of the Starry Cross."

"Selections from the Dime Novel Collection" contains the covers of 11 titles that illustrate some popular perceptions of the American West in the second half of the 19th century and, in a few cases, popular American images of Russia and its frontier. These images are available in the Global Gateway Web site, which features a section called "Meeting of Frontiers." This section documents, in both English and Russian, the story of the American exploration and settlement of the West, the parallel exploration and settlement of Siberia and the Russian Far East and the meeting of the Russian-American frontier in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

"Meeting of Frontiers" is intended for use in U.S. and Russian schools and libraries and by the general public in both countries. Scholars, particularly those who do not have ready access to major research libraries, also will benefit from the mass of primary material included, much of which has never been published or is extremely rare.


A. "King of the Wild West's Cattle War or Stella's Bout with the Rival Ranchers," 1907. Smith Publishing. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Reproduction information: Contact Rare Book and Special Collections Division to determine availability. Send e-mail to: rbref@loc.gov

B. "Female Trapper or, Lone-Star Lizzie," No. 108 , 1873. Robert M. Dewit Publishers. Rare Book and Special Collections Division. Reproduction information: Contact Rare Book and Special Collections Division to determine availability. Send e-mail to: rbref@loc.gov


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