Friday, April 9, 2010

Campfire Girls & Radio Girls

The Campfire Girls at Camp Keewaydin

Undoubtedly the most complex entry among girls' series, there were at least ten separate series about the "Campfire Girls," all by different publishers, representing the work of at least eleven different authors. The ten Hildegard Frey titles were published by A. L. Burt between 1916 and 1920; the titles in the other series—totalling sixty books—appeared between 1912 and 1935.

As one might gather by the titles, the various publications espoused the outdoor life and camaraderie among young girls while generally introducing mystery, adventure, and problem relationships into the plot.

The Radio Girls of Roselawn

Like the many series focused on the modern inventions of the automobile, the airplane, and motion pictures, this series, a spinoff of the "Radio Boys' series, exploited the fascination with radio in the early years of the twentieth century. The series was short-lived (four titles from 1922 to 1924), indicating how quickly the novelty of radio wore off. Surprisingly, these books, originally published by Cupples & Leon, were reprinted word for word by Goldsmith in 1930 as titles in its version of the "Campfire Girls" series!

-Dr. William K. Finley

An Exhibit
Hodges Reading Room
February 15 - May 15, 2010


keeline said...

The Penrose Radio Girls books were produced by the Stratemeyer Syndicate. They also produced a more popular Radio Boys series of 13 volumes issued between 1922 and 1930 by "Allen Chapman".

The timing capitalizes on a period when broadcast radio was coming to the fore and many homes had radios. In Newark, New Jersey, where Stratemeyer lived, one of the newspapers had a radio station and some of the newspaper writers provided fictional material to be read or dramatized.

The Radio Boys did one-to-one voice radio communication comparable to what we associate with amateur or "ham" radio operators. The radio girls were a little less active by comparison.

This is a bit like the Syndicate's earlier Moving Picture Boys and Moving Picture Girls series by "Victor Appleton" and "Laura Lee Hope," respectively. The Boys took movies in exotic locales. The Girls were mainly actors before the lens. Another boys' series, the Motion Picture Chums series focused on a group who ran movie showhouses in an Alger-like success fashion.

Earlier still the Syndicate produced both Motor Boys and Motor Girls series. In each of these cases the girls' series were shorter and less successful.

The exception to this trend was the Outdoor chums (8 vols) and the longer Outdoor Girls series (23 vols).

James Keeline

keeline said...

The Syndicate sold off the Radio Girls printing plates to a cheap reprint house and they decided to rebrand the books on the covers and title pages. The running heads still use the Radio Girls name.

James Keeline