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Gary Johnson, Reference Librarian, Serial & Government Publications Division
Malea Walker, Reference Librarian, Serial & Government Publications Division
Erin Sidwell, Reference Librarian, Serial & Government Publications Division
Created: May 11, 2020
Last Updated: September 12, 2022
The "Pulps," so called because they were printed on inexpensive, 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 1920s to the 1950s and popular subjects were romance, sports, western, detective, science fiction, horror, and military. 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 names.
Authors who got their start by writing for pulp fiction magazines include: Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, HP Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and L. Ron Hubbard.
This guide focuses on the pulp fiction magazine materials held by the Serial & Government Publications Division and that are accessible in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room. This guide also provides general information on pulp magazine collections and related materials held in other divisions of the Library of Congress and beyond.
The Serial & Government Publications Division maintains one of the most extensive newspaper collections in the world. Beyond its newspaper holdings, the Division also has extensive collections of current periodicals, government publications, and comic books. These collections are accessed in the Newspaper & Current Periodical Reading Room which is located in Room LM-133 in the James Madison building in Washington, D.C.