Freethought for the Masses: The Philosophy behind the Writings and Publications of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius

Orson Kingsley, Salve Regina University


Between 1919 and 1951, the United States was bombarded with published and written content by Emanuel Haldeman-Julius. Based out of the small rural town of Girard, Kansas, Haldeman-Julius helped to reshape the publishing world with his methods and philosophically driven content. In the process he created the largest mail-order publishing house in the world, sold over 500 million copies of his Little Blue Book series that contained over 2,500 titles, and skirted controversy nearly every step of the way. His goals were lofty—1) bring knowledge to the masses one five cent pamphlet at a time and through his many other publications 2) increase awareness of the philosophy of freethought to as many people as possible by creating a platform for freethought publications written by authors who were freethinkers 3) and to alter the path of popular culture by focusing on the individual as an agent of change, which over time would potentially lead to a mass social movement led by a freethinking public that made decisions based on science and rationality, free of superstition and public pressure that is attached to a population where religious belief is found in the majority. Despite the immense success he had as a publisher and the influence he wielded over the American landscape during this time, since his death he has largely gone unnoticed by history and has been forgotten by popular culture in the United States. His efforts promoting the philosophy of freethought to a mass audience for an extended period gets little recognition. What little that has been written on him nearly always focuses on his Little Blue Book pamphlet series and how it radicalized the marketplace of cheap literature. The philosophy behind it all, that of freethought, is rarely connected to the finished product, his publications and his writing.

Subject Area

Philosophy|Education history|American history

Recommended Citation

Kingsley, Orson, "Freethought for the Masses: The Philosophy behind the Writings and Publications of Emanuel Haldeman-Julius" (2021). Doctoral Dissertations. AAI28489885.

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