Nancy Drew and Friends: Girls Series Books Rediscovered

News and Events

"Reading Nancy Drew" Symposium

Over ninety participants braved pouring rain to attend the "Reading Nancy Drew"Symposium held in the lobby of Hornbake Library on the afternoon of October 7, 2005. They were treated to a celebration of Nancy Drew featuring scholars and fans of the famous girl sleuth. The event was organized by Eric Lindquist and Doug McElrath to coincide with the Hornbake gallery exhibit "Nancy Drew and Friends: Girls' Series Books Rediscovered."

Doug McElrath, Curator of Marylandia and Rare Books, introduced the symposium and Ann Hudak, Assistant Curator of Marylandia and Rare Books and the Curator of the exhibit spoke on "Exhibiting Nancy Drew and Friends."

Perspectives on Nancy Drew featured an academic panel discussing aspects of Nancy Drew: Kathleen Chamberlain, Professor of English at Emory & Henry College: "Nancy Drew and Her Literary Critics" gave a summary of critical studies of Nancy Drew. Elizabeth Marshall, University of Maryland assistant professor of Education: "Red, White and Drew: The Case of the All-American Girl" discussed gender studies of Nancy Drew. Anne Scott MacLeod, professor emerita of the College of Library and Information Science at University of Maryland: "Nancy Drew, Winner" examined why Nancy Drew is by far the most popular of the girl sleuths.

An intergenerational panel of women ranging in age from 8 to near 70 spoke of their personal experiences reading Nancy Drew during the Reading Nancy Drew: Personal Perspectives section of the symposium. Robyn Muncey, associate professor of History at University of Maryland moderated the panel. Jennifer Roper, Metadata/Electronic Resources Librarian at University of Maryland Libraries, shared with the audience how even as a child she carefully arranged her Nancy Drew books in meticulous order on her shelves. Among the other panelists were Susan Leonardi, University of Maryland professor of English, and Lydia Schurman, professor emeriti of English, Northern Virginia Community College. Audience members also shared their reading experiences in what turned out to be a lively session. Melanie Rehak read from her recent book Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her, answered questions, and signed books. A reception followed the program.

Tours and Class Visits

Students from the second to fifth grades of the Friends Community School of College Park made visits to see the “Nancy Drew and Friends” exhibit in December 2005 and January 2006. The students discussed the series books they had read and how they compare with the vintage series books displayed in the exhibit. They discovered that many of the same formulas are used in modern and vintage series books: cliffhanger chapter endings, plots involving missing inheritances and identities, gothic and mysterious elements, and many clues involving jewels, maps, diaries and wills.

University classes also visiting the exhibit included:

  • American Studies AMST 429 Gender Roles and Media
  • Early Childhood Education, EDHD 222 Literature in the Early Childhood Classroom
  • Curriculum and Instruction, EDCI 443 Literature for Children and Youth

Tours of the exhibit were also given to groups such as Campus Club, the Montgomery County Historical Society, and the MidAtlantic Regional Archives Conference Maryland Caucus.