Nancy Drew’s Got the Clue

By Makenna Adams

My grandma passed them down to my mom, and my mom passed them to me. Our beloved Nancy Drew mystery box set has effortlessly entertained generations of readers in my family. I first began reading the classic mystery series in third grade. Since, I’ve read all 64 novels and many of their various spin offs. 

In 1930, the character Nancy drew first emerged in literature. The original Nancy Drew Mystery Stories were co-written by a number of ghost writers under the pseudonym of Carolyn Keene. Over time, Nancy Drew evolved as a result of changes within the US culture. The books also underwent various revisions and shortenings, beginning in 1959, partially in response to the increase in printing costs. The character became “less unruly and violent,” according to an article published by the University of Maryland. Nancy became more professional and mature beginning in the 1980s. The original writing for the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories series began in 1930 and terminated in 2003. 

I admired Nancy Drew as a kid because she was extremely skilled (somehow, at age 16) in nearly every field. She was an accomplished student, talented driver, cook, painter, and speaker, along with many other things. She was intelligent and resilient, and I channeled her critical thinking skills and patience each time I had to make a difficult decision. 

Also, in my childhood I enjoyed watching the Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew mystery series, developed by Glen A. Larson for Universal Television ABC in 1977. Seventies heartthrobs Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy starred as detective brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, while Pamela Sue Martin (later Janet Louise Johnson) starred as sleuth Nancy Drew. 

The series is a perfect time capsule of the disco era. Flare jeans, turtle necks, and blazers aplenty accompany perfectly coiffed hair and big glasses for looks that embody seventies fashion. Most of the episodes also touch on political events from the time, like the space race and Vietnam war. 

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries often followed each character individually, alternating between episodes that featured the Hardy’s and ones that centered around Drew in the first season. Over time, the two storylines crossed over, and my favorite episode where this occurred is called The Mystery of the Hollywood Phantom. Eventually, Nancy Drew’s character presence decreased, and ultimately was dropped, replaced entirely by the Hardys.