Saturday, August 6, 2022

The Whitman Book Dilemma Part 1

I recently took a careful look at the books published by the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin.  The Whitman books have been problematic for the moderators of the Facebook group, Collecting Vintage Children's Series Books

All traditional series published by Whitman have always been fine for the group.  Some examples are series like Trixie Belden, Robin Kane, Kim Aldrich, Troy Nesbit, and many others.  That has never been in question.  

We also have a firm guideline on the television authorized editions, which is that we do not allow them.  Everyone loves the television authorized editions, but accepting those books into the group would give the appearance that the group is a general nostalgia group.  We must be careful.

We have allowed some of the Whitman Authorized Editions from the 1940s, and this has been central to our problem.  

17 years ago, I created a page about the Whitman movie star books from the 1940s.  My page only featured the female movie stars.  The page was inspired by an article that was published in the August 2000 issue of The Whispered Watchword newsletter:  "Whitman 1940s Movie Star Books for Girls" by Betsy Caprio Hedburg.  That is why I only covered the female movie stars.  

Three movie star books feature men. 

John Payne and the Menace of Hawk's Nest (#2385), 1943
Gregory Peck and the Red Box Enigma (#2305), 1947
Van Johnson: The Luckiest Guy in the World (#2324), 1947 

I have changed the title of my website page about these books.

Whitman Movie Star Authorized Editions

I have added the three books featuring men to the list of titles.  I made a few edits to the text of the page so that the author information would include the three additional titles.  I also purchased copies of the books so that I could scan the jackets and add them to the cover art gallery.

In the Collecting group, we always accepted posts about the movie star books of the 1940s, but this caused an inconsistency due to us not accepting other authorized editions.  Some of the other authorized editions could be okay as well, but others definitely do not fit.  Since the moderators have not read most Whitman books, making a fair decision is a real problem.

The movie star books are part of the Whitman 2300 set from the 1940s.  The Whitman 2300 set contains a wide variety of children's books.  

We have not been in agreement with how far to go.  A simple solution would be to allow the entire 2300 set, but many of the books are outside of the scope of the group and would cause some members to think the group is a general children's book group.  For that reason, we cannot allow all 2300 books.  

In an attempt to find a way to make a definite decision, I looked at the 2300 books and placed them in lists by type.  The 2300 set includes the movie star books, books featuring western stars, books based on comic strips, the Fighters for Freedom series, and some standalone books by various authors including Ruby Lorraine Radford.  

To find titles of the Whitman 2300 books, I used the reference book, Whitman Juvenile Books.

The book is not exhaustive, so many Whitman books are not in it.  This is why advanced collectors tend to criticize books like it, but I still find these books to be a great jumping-off point.  Nothing is wrong with using an imperfect or incomplete book as a place to get started.

Consider my website, Series Books for Girls.  Most series that exist are not covered on my site.  Does that make my site a bad source?  I think my site is a good source for what it covers, but series fan enthusiasts must supplement with other sources.

I found two websites that list Whitman titles and used those to help me group the books.  

Whitman's Authorized Editions/Authorized TV Editions

Whitman Juvenile Books

The "Whitman Juvenile Books" page has some phantom titles listed that do not exist.

A complete source listing all Whitman books does not appear to exist, but combining these sources enabled me to create lists of the different types of Whitman books.  My lists will follow in my next post on this subject.

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