Jesse James the Outlaw

Jesse James died in April of 1882. Not long after his death, his escapades were fodder for adolescent stories.

In today’s world, we would refer to such novels as Young Adult (YA) fiction.

Many of the stories about Jesse appeared as “dime novels,” which became a “publishing phenomenon” just before America’s Civil War. The Library of Congress includes many of these old books in a collection called “American Treasures of the Library of Congress - Imagination.”

The Library’s curators tell us more about the “dime novel” and its attraction for America’s young adults:

In 1860 a publishing phenomenon appeared that would provide Americans a wealth of popular fiction in a regular series at a fixed, inexpensive price. 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. Through copyright deposit the Library has accumulated a collection of nearly 40,000 titles.

The picture, at the top of this page, depicts the cover of a Jesse James story. Jesse James the Outlaw was published on December 22, 1897. Notice the role of the woman, featured in the illustration, who is unafraid of the famous outlaw.

Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 07, 2017

Updated Last Revision: May 03, 2019

Media Credits

"Jesse James the Outlaw" is a dime novel, published in New York by Street & Smith, on December 22, 1897. Once part of the Log Cabin Library series, today it is part of the "American Treasures at the Library of Congress - Imagination." Public Domain.


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"Jesse James the Outlaw" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 07, 2017. Jul 16, 2019.
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