Zine Collection to chronicle self-expression by zinesters of color

Zine \zēn\ n [abbreviation for the word magazine]: a small-circulation, self-published, non-commercial publication of original or appropriated text and images that focuses on the self-expression of the author or authors.

Before there were blogs and Facebook, there were zines – small, self-published booklets that were often photocopied, stapled, and circulated among one’s community in order to provide an outlet on topics ranging from racism and classism to the environment, musical genres, or just daily life. The history of zines is often traced back to science fiction fanzines beginning in the 1930s, but zines as they are know today emerged during the 1980s as do-it-yourself publications created, published, and distributed by individuals as an alternative to more commercial, mainstream magazines.

A sampling of zines recently acquired by Amistad.

A sampling of zines recently acquired by Amistad.

While zines have provided outlets for many voices, as similarly mentioned in a recent blog entry on the new Comics and Graphic Novels Collection at Amistad, diversity among zine writers has been a concern for those who create and read zines, as well as those with an interest in collecting them. Since the 1990s, a number of libraries have recognized the value of documenting these publications, and zines have become a popular area of study among students and academics. However, “zines of color” as they are commonly called (zines by African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, etc.) make up a small percentage of the zines produced and those collected by archives and libraries.

To assist in documenting zines that provide a voice to underrepresented communities, Amistad has begun to collect zine titles that chronicle those voices. Center staff are currently seeking donations of relevant materials in good condition to add to the Center’s growing Zine Collection. Materials added into the collection will be listed in a planned online database that will make the collection information accessible to scholars across the globe. If you are interested in donating materials or learning more about the collection, please contact Director of Library and Reference Services Christopher Harter at (504) 862-3222 or reference@amistadresearchcenter.org.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Image from the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)

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