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David H. Keller Collection

The David H. Keller Collection, donated to the library in the 1980s, consists of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines from the 1920s through the 1960s, as well as many of the personal papers of Dr. David H. Keller.

The American pulp industry began in 1896 with Frank Munsey's Argosy, a once-glossy magazine that cut its production costs, committed itself to an all-fiction format, and found that its readership swelled. Over the decades that followed, pulp magazines, so called because of the inexpensive paper on which they were printed, were produced for readers of all predilections: science fiction, detective fiction, romantic fiction, "submarine stories," "Oriental stories," fantasy, horror, adventure, collegiate fiction, and so on. As cultural artifacts, pulp magazines are notable for their exuberant defiance of the usual standards of quality, made of the cheapest, pulpiest paper, and emblazoned with vibrant, often tawdry artwork.

Dr. Keller (1880-1965) was a Philadelphia-area psychiatrist who achieved renown as a fiction writer during the heyday of the pulps, and, according to Hugo Gernsback (the creator of such publications as Amazing Stories and Science Wonder Stories), pioneered a new type of science fiction story, in which the focus shifted away from the gadgets and technological trappings of the future toward the humanity and psychological depth of the characters. These "Kelleryarns" were extremely popular with readers, and Keller himself became a respected figure to the burgeoning culture of science fiction fandom.

In addition to the approximately 160 issues of science fiction and fantasy pulp magazines at its core, the Keller Collection also features manuscripts and typescripts, correspondence (including over 120 letters exchanged by Keller and August Derleth between 1947 and 1949), and an extensive collection of fanzines from the 1930s through the 1960s. Keller's contributions to health and hygiene pulp magazines (such as Your Body and Facts of Life) as both a writer and an editor are also included in the collection; there are approximately 30 issues of these publications.

Although most of the materials in this collection are uncataloged, this finding aid for the Keller Collection (.pdf), will provide an overview of the collection.