Fan Culture Preservation Project

Do you have zines, fannish flyers, paper memorabilia, or con programs that you can’t keep anymore, but can’t bear to throw out? The OTW can help!


The Fan Culture Preservation Project is a partnership between the OTW and the Special Collections department at the University of Iowa Libraries dedicated to preserving fan artifacts such as letterzines, fanzines, and other non-digital fan works and memorabilia.

The OTW has helped many fans to establish named collections at Iowa (see the library’s page of Fandom-Related Collections); fans who wish not to be named can donate to the OTW’s general collection (Organization for Transformative Works Fanzine and Fan Fiction Collection).

Contact the Open Doors committee for more information about donating zines or other artifacts of fan culture to the FCPP. (Other OTW projects, like the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore and the Open Doors project can help you preserve digital fanworks or artifacts.)

Why is Fan Culture Preservation important?

As Greg Prickman, Assistant Head of Special Collections at the University of Iowa, notes, “Fan culture pre-dates and anticipates our modern remix mash-up internet culture.” The Special Collections department has a strong interest in preserving zines and fan culture: Iowa is already home to a huge (250,000) collection of science fiction and fantasy zines and APA zines, as well as a collection of Riot Grrrl and Underground Music Zines.

Protecting and preserving “transformative fanworks and the innovative communities from which they have arisen,” is at the heart of OTW’s mission. Letterzines and fanzines are the tangible artifacts (and evidence of the existence) of the longstanding nature of our fan communities, many if which were historically underground. As our works are lost and people gafiate or pass away, that history vanishes.

The OTW also believes in “making fannish activities as accessible as possible to all those who wish to participate.” By partnering with the University of Iowa, a major research library, we are helping to put these artifacts of fan culture in a central, accessible, nonprofit place. Iowa not only has the facilities to send out photocopies, but we are also exploring digitization options so that fans and scholars who can not physically get there can still have access to materials.


The first major donation brokered by OTW is the Fanzine Archives, a collection of over 3,000 classic zines previously housed in Santa Barbara, CA–over 62 boxes! The OTW was able to help the retiring archivist, Ming Wathne, save and protect this valuable collection. Special Collections is currently in the process of sorting and boxing Ming’s zines. Soon after that is finished, titles in the Fanzine Archive collection will be listed in a finding aid on the Special Collections website. We are currently helping other longtime fans donate their collections to the library.

You can see our growing list of collections below, or visit the University of Iowa Libraries’ Fandom-Related Collections.

  • Mariellen (Ming) Wathne Fanzine Archive Collection (2009)
    The Fanzine Archive Collection contains thousands of fanzines focused on Star Wars that were originally collected by Lucasfilm Ltd., producer of the Star Wars series. This collection was offered back to fans in the 1990s, and a California fan named Mariellen Wathne accepted it and began a lending library to distribute zines among fans. In addition to Star Wars fanzines, there are also many fanzines related to Star Trek, including some of the most important early pieces. (A fund in memory of Ming Wathne has been created at Iowa to support this collection. See this post for more details.)
  • Celeste Hotaling-Lyons Collection (2009)
    A collection of hundreds of zines from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, featuring fandoms such as Blake’s 7, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Max Headroom, and Forever Knight.
  • The Susan Hill Collection (2009)
    Susan Hill’s collection encompasses a number of British-made Blake’s 7 zines and letterzines, as well as a few from other fandoms and some multimedia zines from the 1990s. The collection also features programs and other con materials from MediaWest and InConJunction, as well as a copy of “The Professional’s Drinking Game.”
  • The Watchers of CIS Collection of Highlander Fan Materials (2009)
    This Highlander: The Series collection features print masters and copies of The Prize, a newsletter produced by the fan group Watchers of CIS. There are also publicity materials, merchandise catalogs, news clippings and other fan artifacts related to Highlander.
  • The Brian Knapp Collection (2009)
    This is a large collection of classic zines from the 1970s and early 1980s. It includes such titles as The Green Dome (The Prisoner), Locus, Menagerie, Spockanalia, Future Wings, The Goddess Uhura, and the Kraith Collected Volumes 1 – 6. Other notable items include “Sing A Song of Trekkin (A Fun-Filled Folio of 20 Trekker ‘Filk’ Songs)” and several years’ worth of annuals from the J.D.I.F.C. (James Doohan International Fan Club), as well as souvenir programs from I-Con, Arisia, MiniTrekCon, Creation Con ’79, and New York Star Trek ’76.
  • The Debbie Hoover Collection (2009)
    23 large boxes of zines–almost 1500– dating from the late ’70s/ early ’80s to present. Star Trek, Star Wars, various cop shows, Stargate, X-files and Robin Hood.
  • The Morgan Dawn Collection (2010; in process)
    *The Professionals Circuit Library and Fanzine Collection, a collection of Professionals fanfiction that was distributed through private networks in the 1980s and 1990s.
    *The Morgan Dawn Fanzine and Fanvid Collection; includes both fanfiction and vids
  • The Susan M. Garrett Collection (2010, in process)
    Catalog to follow!
  • Donations to the general OTW Collection
    * UMF: The ‘Zine for the Creative Duranie was a zine dedicated to Duran Duran fanfiction. It ran for ten issues, from 1993 – 1998. We currently hold issues 3, 5, and 6.
    * Collection of mostly Kung Fu: The Legend Continues and Quantum Leap zines, as well as miscellaneous MacGyver, Rat Patrol, and zines about various TV westerns.
    * Collection of multifandom (e.g. Storm Signs, Wounded Heroes), Quantum Leap (incl. various issues of The Angel and the Dreamer, Quantum Instability, and others), Sentinel, and due South zines.
    * Collection of zines in a number of fandoms including: Alias Smith & Jones, Blake’s 7, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Highlander, Sentinel, and multimedia.
    * Collection of zines in a number of fandoms including The Real Ghostbusters and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., as well as several multimedia anthologies.
    * Collection of Simon and Simon letterzines and fiction zines in various fandoms; these zines come originally come from the collection of Alison Wilson, who was involved in many fandoms until her death in the late 1990s. An avid fan and fan fiction writer, she was cited in Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins.
    * Collection of X-Files, Buffy, DS9, and Blake’s 7 zines donated by Joanna Lowenstein in memory of Beth Kiedrowicz, media fan and regular attendee of WisCon. These zines originally come from Beth’s collection.

Read More

Announcing the Fan Culture Preservation Project, June 17, 2009.
University of Iowa Libraries acquires thousands of science fiction ‘fanzines’, July 5, 2009, Associated Press.
UI Libraries acquire ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Star Wars’ fanzines, Iowa City Press Citizen, July 2, 2009.

Fan Culture Preservation FAQ

  • If I have materials to donate, who should I talk to?
    Contact Open Doors for assistance with donating to this project.
  • I have boxes [shelves/rooms/houses] full of zines! I can’t afford to mail them to Iowa! Heck, I can’t even get them to the post office!
    We can help! The Fan Culture Preservation Project can arrange not only for postage but for pick up of donations. Don’t let cost or bulk stop you from donating.
  • Will archives be made available in digital form?
    OTW and Iowa will be exploring ways to digitize some of these materials, so that fans who want to see them will have access, even if they can’t get to Iowa. We hope to reach many of the authors of these stories to get their permission to share their work more widely online.
  • What about fan privacy? Many fans published stories under their legal names.
    Respecting fans’ rights and privacy is the first priority for both the University of Iowa and the OTW. Typical public listings will only include the zine title and fandom (i.e. Blake’s 7: The Other Side 1, 3 [1986-1987]), the same way a magazine is listed in a library catalog. However, we do hope to get permission from individual authors and editors to share their content more widely online.
  • Can I borrow these materials through inter-library loan programs?
    The items in the collection will remain resident at the University of Iowa. However, Special Collections is willing to photocopy and send up to 100 photocopies to scholars or other interested parties at a price of about $.25 cents a page, according to their standard procedure. Fans outside the U.S. pay the same price per page but may be charged additional postage.
  • Does the FCPP have any criteria about donations based on language or country of origin?
    No: both the FCPP and the University of Iowa are interested in collecting materials from fans around the world, including materials that are not in English or do not come from English-speaking countries. However, as with U.S. donations, our ability to help with shipping will be dependent on available resources.
  • Can I leave my fannish collection to this project in my will?
    Yes. We can help you with appropriate wording for a bequest.