Exhibit unlocks mystery of Nancy Drew


Throughout the month of August, UCSD Arts Library will host a display in the foyer of the Seuss Room in the Geisel Library’s west wing commemorating the titian-haired, convertible-driving, mystery-solving girl detective Nancy Drew.

“All Things Nancy Drew, which is free and open to the public, will include two live events at 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and 12:30 p.m. Aug. 17, featuring refreshments based on recipes from the teen sleuth’s cookbook, an old-time radio show performance of one of Nancy’s classic cases, prize giveaways and a phone-in interview with Nancy Drew expert Jenn Fisher.

Memorabilia, much of it on loan from private collectors, will include samples of the different formats in which the books were published, as well as other merchandise such as the Nancy Drew Mystery board game and scholarly books from the UCSD Arts Library about the much loved, clever literary figure.

“Not having a budget wasn’t an obstacle because my exhibits all tend to be very grass-roots, community-driven efforts,” said Scott Paulson, outreach coordinator for the library and curator. “The big surprise to me was how many different generations of women were thrilled about the idea and how many phone calls I’ve gotten from women all over San Diego that wanted to help.”

Even before the exhibit opened, Paulson said university staff members and visitors of all ages and professional backgrounds responded with tremendous enthusiasm.

“They stopped me in my tracks, and they immediately wanted to tell me their Nancy Drew story,” Paulson said.

Created in 1930 by publisher Edward Stratemeyer, Nancy Drew has graced the childhoods of more than three generations of readers. She has appeared in movies, on television and in several print genres, including graphic novels, paperback, children’s illustrated stories and compilations.

“She’s such a household name,” said Nancy Drew consultant and author Jenn Fisher. “Some of the reasons she’s so popular is her desire to solve these baffling mysteries and help others, no matter the odds.”

Those unfamiliar with Paulson’s creative genius - past events include not-so-silent film screenings and a toy piano exhibit - are sure to enjoy what he describes as a “funky” retrospective.

Inspired to right what he considers a major wrong, the fact that Nancy Drew never made it to the airwaves during the golden days of radio serials, Paulson wrote an episodic narration based on “The Whispering Statue.” It will be performed by actors from San Diego’s Write Out Loud project with music and sound effects by Paulson and the Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra.

One of several family-friendly exhibits hosted each summer, “All Things Nancy Drew” is an opportunity for the library to remind students and visitors about the resources and information available to them.

“We took Nancy Drew as a topic and we researched it,” Paulson said. “There will be a binder that will show you the results of the research.”

Whether people come to learn more about one of America’s most enduring fictional icons or for a trip down memory lane, “All Things Nancy Drew” promises something to amuse, entertain, surprise and inspire.

All Things Nancy Drew

  • Presented by UCSD Arts Library
  • Exhibition on display throughout the month of August
  • Live events 2 p.m. Aug. 15 and 12:30 p.m. Aug. 17
  • Seuss Room Foyer, Geisel Library
  • Free and open to the public
  • For more information, contact Scott Paulson, outreach coordinator, at (858) 822-5758 or