Tijuana Bibles collection, 1930s-1998

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Tijuana Bibles, also known as eight-pagers or dirty little books, were small eight-page publications of cartoon erotica and pornography that became popular during the 1930s and 1940s. This collection includes about 400 Tijuana Bibles, some of them duplicates; a few folders of erotica drawings and drafts by an unknown artist; and printed material about Tijuana Bibles, published from the 1970s through the 1990s.
3 Linear Feet (500 items)
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

The Tijuana Bibles Collection consists of about 400 Tijuana bibles, some printed material about the bibles and the phenomenon as a whole, and an anonymous author's sketches and drawings of characters and plots.

The Tijuana bibles include a wide range of characters, many inspired by (or lifted from) mainstream media and celebrities. The most frequently used characters were from newspaper comic strips, including Andy Gump, Betty Boop, Blondie and Dagwood, Dick Tracy, Ella Cinders, Dumb Dora, Wimpy, Pete the Tramp, Tillie the Toiler, and Popeye. Other bibles include generic figures such as travelling salesmen (including a vacuum cleaner man, a book salesman, a radio salesmen, and so on); parodies of real people, including Nazis, boxer Joe Louis, and other celebrities; or versions of popular movie heroines, such as Snow White or Mae West.

The collection held in Rubenstein Library consists largely of Tijuana bibles, but also include other small pornographic cartoon or comic joke books, similar in design and in manufacturing quality, but not entirely true to the "traditional" form of a Tijuana bible. There are also Tijuana bible reproductions in this series.

The manuscript materials accompanying the bibles consist of drafts and sketches for two strips, one featuring Wahoo and the other featuring Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae. Also included is a draft of "Fritzi Ritz in 'Kisses for Sale'." This series also includes pornographic drawings of generic female characters, some with and some without text. These do not appear to be taken from any particular Tijuana bible. All of the manuscript material is anonymous and undated.

Finally, the collection also includes a series of books about Tijuana bibles, compiled by the collector, including reprints of some of the bibles as well as essays or historical introductions to the genre. These books were published between 1971 and 1998.

Biographical / historical:

Tijuana bibles are small, cheaply-made, pornographic publications. Also known as "dirty little books" or "eight-pagers," Tijuana bibles emerged in the 1930s and remained popular through the 1940s, finally disappearing in the post-World War II period. Being underground erotic publications, there were no designated publishers or organizations creating the books; despite that, each adheres to a fairly consistent format. They average about 3x5 inches in size, and are eight pages in length, bound between covers by a staple. Images are cheaply printed on poor-quality paper by mimeograph, usually in black and white, occasionally incorporating the color red. The book's cover also serves as a title page, introducing the main character and sometimes an author's pen name (which is usually a sexual double entendre). Nearly every bible is undated and by an anonymous author.

Tijuana bible artists tended to draw their characters from mainstream newspaper comics, such as Popeye or Little Orphan Annie; politicians or celebrities from the day, such as Greta Garbo or Mae West; or American folklore or culture, such as a travelling salesman or an unemployed secretary. Although the books are extremely graphic in nature, there is also a consistent presence of humor, with the last page typically serving as a punch line.

Acquisition information:
The Tijuana Bibles Collection were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a purchase from Rulon-Miller Books in July 2010 and September 2012. Updated January 2013, January 2017, and April 2017 with small additions.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, July 2010; updated September 2012, January 2013, January 2017, April 2017.

Accessions 2010-0146, 2012-0175, 2012-0207, 2012-0245, 2017-0020, 2017-0062 are described in this finding aid.


The Tijuana bibles have been arranged in alphabetical order by title. Please do a Control-Find search if you are looking for all Tijuana bibles featuring a certain character. Author pen names have been included when given on the book.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


Click on terms below to find related finding aids on this site. For other related materials in the Duke University Libraries, search for these terms in the Catalog.

Erotic comic books, strips, etc. -- United States
Underground comic books, strips, etc. -- United States
Tijuana bibles


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Collection is open for research.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Tijuana Bibles Collection, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University