It's been almost 15 years since I first learned of my grandfather's career as a pulp fiction writer. Back in April 1999 I discovered that he had been a prolific pulp western writer, with most of his stories being published in WILD WEST WEEKLY between 1928-1943. And two months after that, in June 1999, I reunited with my aunt Pat, my grandfather's daughter, at which time she handed over to me the two plastic bins containing his personal papers. Since then, we have published his memoir, PULP WRITER, published three anthologies of his short stories, DESERT JUSTICE, RIDING THE PULP TRAIL, and HIDDEN GHOSTS, and also reprinted his 1930 book KID WOLF OF TEXAS.
It's been an amazing 15 years. I now have a close relationship with my aunt and her children. I've met so many wonderful people through the pulp fiction community and have given talks all over the country about my grandfather's life. In the meantime, behind the scenes, my aunt and her husband Ted have been quietly acquiring copies of WILD WEST WEEKLY magazines containing my grandfather's stories and anything other magazines and books that contained his stories. Over 15 years, the collection grew to almost 400 copies of WILD WEST WEEKLY, WEIRD TALES, WESTERN STORY, TEXAS RANGERS, THE RIO KID WESTERN, EXCITING WESTERN, POPULAR WESTERN, THRILLING RANCH STORIES, RANGE RIDERS WESTERN, and more.
So it's with a lot of emotion and yes, a sense of completion, that I announce today that all of my grandfather's personal papers and the collection of pulp magazines have been donated to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. They will be part of the university's significant popular fiction holdings in the William Charvat Collection of American Literature, one of the world’s foremost collection of materials in this field, and their growing pulp fiction magazine collection. There they will be available for viewing and study by scholars, students and pulp fiction enthusiasts and historians.
These papers will be something that many scholars will be interested in studying, as they contain many insights into the career of a pulp fiction writer and his relationship with editors and publishers. Included are correspondence between the publisher and the writer, including 180 letters from the Street & Smith editorial staff, photocopies of book keeping records, and correspondence from other writers, agents, family, fans, and friends. There are letters of acceptance and rejection letters. All of the original manuscripts for all his stories, including the original for PULP WRITER and DOC DILLAHAY, and a “how to” checklist for writing a pulp western story are also in the collection.
This collection also contains examples of commercial products used by pulp fiction publishers to recycle pulp stories, such as Little Big Books; Sonny Tabor and Kid Wolf books, WILD WEST WEEKLY issues printed in the United Kingdom; and even a recording of a Sonny Tabor radio series. There are anthologies in which Paul Powers stories were reprinted over the years, (sometimes without his permission, like the NOT AT NIGHT anthology). And of course, there are the pulp magazines themselves.
The Powers family is thrilled that this donation has taken place. We know that Grandpa Powers would have been so pleased and proud and yes, probably a little surprised that the pulp fiction years he thought had been a waste have found a second life and will be of value to scholars and students for many, many years to come.
The Rare Books and Manuscript Library is also posting a Press Release on Facebook. (You should be able to view it even if you're not a member.) Any comments or questions regarding the collection can be posted there.
I would like to thank Eric Johnson, curator of the Rare Books and Manuscript Library at Ohio State for his acceptance of this donation, and his enthusiasm, patience, and support during this process which started last August and took almost five months to complete. Personally, I want to thank my Pat and Ted Binkley, my aunt and uncle, for their generosity in donating the substantial pulp fiction collection and the personal papers. None of this would have been possible without them.
I hope many of you will be able to benefit from this collection. This seems like the perfect ending to one of the most exciting stories of my life.