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Printed Collections: Zine Collection

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 106 PC/07
Held at: Women's Library
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Full title: Printed Collections: Zine Collection
Date(s): [1970-2009]
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 300+ zines (150 un-indexed)
Name of creator(s): Various
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

'Zines' (produced "zeens") are non-commercial, hand-made magazines and booklets. Written, designed and published by their creators, these grass-roots publications are made simply and quickly on photocopiers and home computers. They fuse original artwork with images appropriated from the mainstream media and include writing that is creative, critical, personal and humourous.

Produced in small print runs from 10 to 10,000 copies, zines are ephemeral publications written on any number of topics. Due to their eclectic natures and amateur production values, zines exist on the fringes of popular culture, journalism, art practices, life writing, and academia. They are distributed by their creators through local, postal and internet-based networks and at events such as Ladyfest.

Whilst the history of zines dates back to the mimeo-graphed science fiction fan magazines (fanzines') of the 1930s, it was the fusion of punk culture and cheap photocopying rates in the late 1970s which saw a 'zine explosion' of DIY (do-it-yourself) cultural expression. Traditionally, zine cultures are dominated by young men. However, the 'girl zine movement' of the early 1990s saw many young women and girls explore their experiences and voices within zines for the first time; inspired by the rise of the feminist and personal zines of the Riot Grrrl movement.

Young women make zines for a number of reasons: to explore their creativity, to make friends, to overcome isolation, and to think critically about the world around them. They blur genre boundaries by mixing together stories, essays, photography, rants, collages, lists, doodles, reviews, diary entries, and autobiographical confessions.

Zines are historical primary sources documenting women's everyday lives and cultural opinions. Zines are also a key tool in analysing 'third wave feminism', as young women explore their self-identities and redefine feminism in these publications. The Women's Library collects zines and comics which reflect women and girls' experiences, interests and concerns in the UK today.


Scope and content/abstract:

The Women's Library continues to document the development of feminism in the UK, and examples of '3rd wave' activity can be found within our Zine Collection. The Zine Collection began with a donation of 50 zines by Ladyfest London in 2002. This Collection comprises self-published magazines reflecting contemporary feminism and the attitudes and concerns of young women in the UK today. It currently includes over 150 indexed zines on topics ranging from music, feminism, art, fashion, food, politics, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, popular culture, travelling, relationships, parenting and much more. The Women's Library aims to collect and preserve women's zines from the 1970s to the present day.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Finding aids:

The zines are not yeat catalogued (as at 2009) an online index was available at Additional guides in the form of Source Notes are available online.

Archival Information

Archival history:

This collection began with a donation of 50 zines by Ladyfest London in 2002. Subsequently several 'zine fests' were held at The Women's Library with attendees donating their zines to the Library. Zines were also collected by word of mouth, at feminist events and fairs either where TWL attended or where Friends of the Library collected material on behalf of the Library. Donations were also given directly to the Library. As at 2009 this was a very active area of collecting, with approx 100+ additional zines deposited in Jan 2009 at the TWL zine-fest.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Mainly by deposit, a very small proportion by purchase.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Women's Library also holds a Periodical Collection, including many popular and activist magazines - some self-published.

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Updated Collection Description by Teresa Doherty, based on web resources Feb 2009. Edited for AIM25 by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal Place and Corporate Names 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Feb 2009.

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