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 fanworks 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.


Please see the FAQ or contact the Open Doors committee for more information about donating zines or other artifacts of fan culture. (Other OTW projects, like the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and Open Doors, 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-item) 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 of 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 institution, 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 cannot physically get there can still have access to materials.


What qualifies for the collection? Here are some examples:

  1. Physical copies of fanzines, letterzines, newsletters, clubzines, adzines, and zine flyers.
  2. Fannish ephemera: fan made calendars or posters, convention materials, (program guides, flyers, t-shirts, panel handouts, and convention badges), broadsides, fan made buttons, and fan made scrapbooks.
  3. Circuit stories.
  4. Photography or video recordings of fannish conventions (vid shows, fan skits, panels, or fans) or written or oral accounts of fannish life (E.g., Media Fandom Oral History Project).
  5. Fan artwork (originals and prints) and crafts. (E.g., paper dolls)
  6. Songvids on DVD (these can be VHS video transfers onto DVD or DVDs of more recent vids).
  7. Personal correspondence between fans or between fans and the studios or writers. Personal journals are accepted if they pertain to fannish life (a convention, a fan club, or publishing a zine).
  8. Officially licensed materials.

Materials That Do Not Qualify:

  1. Personal journals that cover non-fandom events.
  2. Unaltered screencaps.
  3. Unedited / non-transformative video clips.

Note to donors: If your collection contains a small amount of these items and sorting and removing these materials would be time-consuming or a hardship, please contact Open Doors to discuss.

Reading Room policies for the University of Iowa’s Special Collections & University Archives can be found on this page.



The first major donation brokered by OTW was the Fanzine Archives, a collection of over 3,000 classic zines — more than 62 boxes! — previously housed in Santa Barbara, CA. The OTW was able to help the retiring archivist, Ming Wathne, save and protect this valuable collection, which is now cataloged in a finding aid on the library website. Since that time, we have helped many other longtime fans donate their collections to the library.


See our list of collections below, or visit the University of Iowa Libraries’ Zine Collections page.

2010/10/01Laura Leach Collection of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Fanzines and Related MaterialsThis is a large collection of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. fanzines dating from 1964-2006. It also includes some multifandom and crossover zines and episode scripts. Finding Aid
2010/09/01Morgan Dawn Fanzine and Fanvid CollectionThis collection includes material from a wide variety of fandoms dating from 1976-present, including several one-of-a-kind “custom zines,” DVDs of vids, and convention materials. Finding Aid
2010/09/01Morgan Dawn “The Professionals” Circuit Library and Fanzine CollectionThe Professionals Circuit Library and Fanzine Collection, a collection of Professionals fanfiction that was distributed through private networks in the 1980s and 1990s. Finding Aid
2009/12/01Debbie Hoover CollectionTwenty-three large boxes — almost 1,500 zines — dating from the late 1970s to present. Includes Star Trek, Star Wars, various cop shows, Stargate, The X-Files, and Robin Hood. Finding Aid
2009/10/01Watchers of CIS Collection of Highlander Fan MaterialsThis 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. Finding Aid
2009/09/01Brian Knapp CollectionThis 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. Finding Aid
2009/08/01Susan Hill CollectionSusan 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.” Finding Aid
2009/07/01Celeste Hotaling-Lyons CollectionA collection of hundreds of zines from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, featuring fandoms such as Blake’s 7, Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Star Trek, Max Headroom, and Forever Knight. Finding Aid
2009/07/01Organization for Transformative Works Fanzine and Fan Fiction CollectionThe general OTW collection includes a wide variety of analog fanworks. Materials in this collection have been donated by numerous fans, some of whom wish to remain anonymous. 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, The Sentinel, and multimedia. Collection of zines in a number of fandoms including The …
2009/04/01Mariellen (Ming) Wathne Fanzine Archive CollectionThe 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.) Finding Aid