E. Haldeman-Julius

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E. Haldeman-Julius
Emanuel Haldeman-Julius (ca. 1924).jpg

Emanuel Haldeman-Julius ( Emanuel Julius) (July 30, 1889 – July 31, 1951) was a Jewish-American socialist writer, atheist thinker, social reformer and publisher. He is best remembered as the head of Haldeman-Julius Publications, the creator of a series of pamphlets known as "Little Blue Books," total sales of which ran into the hundreds of millions of copies.


Early years[edit]

Emanuel Julius was born July 30, 1889, in Philadelphia, the son of David Julius ( Zolajefsky), a bookbinder. His parents were Jewish emigrants who fled Odessa (then part of the Russian Empire) and emigrated to America to escape religious persecution.[1] His paternal and maternal grandfathers had both been rabbis but his own parents were not religious. "[T]hey were indifferent, for which I thank them."[2]

As a boy, Emanuel read voraciously. Because literature and pamphlets produced by the socialists were inexpensive, Julius read them and became convinced of their truth.[3] He joined the Socialist Party before World War I[1] and was the party's 1932 Senatorial candidate for the state of Kansas.[4]


After working for various newspapers,[5] Julius rose to particular prominence as an editor (1915-1922)[6] of the Appeal to Reason, a socialist newspaper with a large but declining national circulation. He and his first wife, Marcet Haldeman (whose last name he adopted in hyphenate[7]), purchased the Appeal's printing operation in Girard, Kansas and began printing 3.5" x 5" pocket books on cheap pulp paper (similar to that used in pulp magazines), stapled in paper cover. These were first were called The Appeal's Pocket Series and sold in 1919 for 25 cents. The covers were either red or yellow. Over the next several years Haldeman-Julius changed the name successively to The People's Pocket Series, Appeal Pocket Series, Ten Cent Pocket Series, Five Cent Pocket Series, Pocket Series and finally in 1923, Little Blue Books.[8] The five cent price of the books remained in place for many years. Many titles of classic literature were given lurid titles in order to increase sales.[9] Eventually, millions of copies per year were sold in the late 1920s.

In 1922 they renamed the Appeal as The Haldeman-Julius Weekly (known from 1929 to 1951 as The American Freeman), which became the house organ. In 1924 they launched The Haldeman-Julius Monthly[10] (later renamed The Debunker), which had a greater emphasis on Freethought, and in 1932 added The Militant Atheist, among other journals.

The novelist Louis L’Amour (1908-1988) described the Haldeman-Julius publications in his autobiography and their potential influence:

Riding a freight train out of El Paso, I had my first contact with the Little Blue Books. Another hobo was reading one, and when he finished he gave it to me. The Little Blue Books were a godsend to wandering men and no doubt to many others. Published in Girard, Kansas, by Haldeman-Julius, they were slightly larger than a playing card and had sky-blue paper covers with heavy black print titles. I believer there were something more than three thousand titles in all and they were sold on newsstands for 5 or 10 cents each. Often in the years following, I carried ten or fifteen of them in my pockets, reading when I could. Among the books available were the plays of Shakespeare, collections of short stories by De Maupassant, Poe, Jack London,[11] Gogol, Gorky, Kipling, Gautier, Henry James, and Balzac. There were collections of essays by Voltaire, Emerson, and Charles Lamb, among others. There were books on the history of music and architecture, painting, the principles of electricity; and, generally speaking, the books offered a wide range of literature and ideas. […] In subsequent years I read several hundred of the Little Blue Books, including books by Tom Paine, Charles Darwin, and Thomas Huxley.[12]

Personal life, death and legacy[edit]

The couple had two children: Alice Haldeman-Julius Deloach (1917–1991) and Henry Haldeman-Julius (1919–1990; he later changed his name to Henry Julius Haldeman). They adopted Josephine Haldeman-Julius Roselle (b. 1910). Marcet and Emanuel legally separated in 1933.[13] Marcet died in 1941, and a year later Haldeman-Julius married Susan Haney, an employee.

In 1948 the FBI targeted and questioned Haldeman-Julius after his publication of The FBI - The Basis of an American Police State: The Alarming Methods of J. Edgar Hoover.[6] In June 1951 Haldeman-Julius was found guilty of income tax evasion by a Federal grand jury and sentenced to six months in Federal prison and fined $12,500.[6] The next month he drowned in his swimming pool.[6] His son Henry took over his father's publishing efforts, and the books continued to be sold until the printing house burned down on July 4, 1978.[6]

Haldeman-Julius's papers are held at Pittsburg State University in Pittsburg, Kansas, a few miles from Girard in the southeastern corner of the state,[14] as well as at the University of Illinois at Chicago[15] and Indiana University.[16]

Selected works[edit]

  • "Mark Twain: Radical." International Socialist Review, vol. 11.2 (Aug., 1910), pp. 83-88. Emanuel's first bylined article.[17]
  • Dust (with Marcet Haldeman-Julius). New York: Brentano's, 1921.
  • The Militant Agnostic. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1995 [1926].
  • My First Twenty-Five Years. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1949.
  • My Second Twenty-Five Years. Girard, KS: Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1949.
  • The World of Haldeman-Julius (compiled Albert Mordell). New York: Twayne, 1960.
  • Short Works (with Marcet Haldeman-Julius). Topeka: Center for Kansas Studies, Washburn University, 1992.


  1. ^ a b Susan Jacoby, Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2004; pg. 264. (See photograph of David here.)
  2. ^ Quoted in Julie Herrada, "Emanuel Haldeman-Julius", The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, p. 374.
  3. ^ Marcet and Emanuel Haldeman-Julius - Kansapedia - Kansas Historical Society
  4. ^ J.G. Gabe and C.S. Sullivant, Kansas Votes: National Elections, 1859-1956 (Univ. Kansas, 1957), p. 92.
  5. ^ These included the New York Evening Call, Milwaukee Leader, Chicago World and Western Comrade and New York Call (Julie Herrada, "Emanuel Haldeman-Julius", The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, p. 374).
  6. ^ a b c d e Haldeman-Julius Historical Notes: Chronology of Important Events
  7. ^ "In addition, they kept their individual incomes separate and split evenly their common expenses" (Herrada, p. 375).
  8. ^ Herrada gives 1925 as the date for this.
  9. ^ "'The Tallow Ball" by Guy de Maupassant sold 15,000 copies one year, but 54,700 the next year after the title was changed to 'A French Prostitute's Sacrifice'" (from the Wikipedia Little Blue Books article).
  10. ^ See example cover here.
  11. ^ For Haldeman-Julius's own correspondence with Jack London, see here, pp. 5-17.
  12. ^ L’Amour Education of a Wandering Mann (NYC: Bantam, 1989), ch. 2 (paragraphs consolidated).
  13. ^ Kansas Historical Society; see here.
  14. ^ Leonard H. Axe Library; see here and here.
  15. ^ Richard J. Daley Library, MSHald72; see here.
  16. ^ Lilly Library Manuscript Collections, Haldeman mss. [I], II and III. See here.
  17. ^ "Following his conversion to socialism, Julius moved to New York at age seventeen. In Tarrytown, New York, he worked as a bellboy at the Castle School for Girls, and won the friendship of the kindly librarian of the school, Lilian Parsons, who became a strong influence. She recommended readings and introduced him to the writings of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)." Julie Herrada, "Emanuel Haldeman-Julius", The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief, p. 374.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  1. ^ Gunn collaborated especially with Marcet on a number of works and wrote her eulogy in 1941.