Guide to the Zine Collections

The Bingham Center's collection of zines created by women, girls, and women-identified people began when Sarah Dyer gave her collection of over 1,000 zines in the year 2000. Dyer collected zines for her Action Girl Newsletter, a networking publication for women’s comics and zines. Sarah Dyer has written an essay, "A Brief History of My Life in Zines," about how she became a zineproducer and collector and why she donated her collection to Duke University. Since Dyer’s initial donation, many more authors and collectors have helped expand our collection to over 4,000 zines, with a majority dating from 1990-2005. Around 2,600 of these are recorded in this searchable database.

What is a zine?

Zines are not easily defined. They can be a messy hodgepodge of personal thoughts or an expertly designed political treatise. They can fit easily into a pocket or take up an entire 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. They can be heavily collaged or minimalist; colored or black-and-white; handwritten or typed; stapled, sewn, or loose. The unifying thread is their outside-of-the-mainstream existence as independently written, produced, and distributed media that value freedom of expression and freedom from rules above all else.

Short for fanzines, zines have been in existence since the 1930s, when they served as a form of communication among science fiction fans. In the 1990s, with the combination of the riot grrrl movement's reaction against sexism in punk culture, the rise of third wave feminism and girl culture, and an increased interest in the do-it-yourself lifestyle, the women's and grrrls' zine culture began to thrive. Feminist practice emphasizes the sharing of personal experience as a community-building tool, and zines proved to be the perfect medium for reaching out to young women across the country in order to form the "revolution, girl style."

More about zines

The materials in this collection are made available for use in research, teaching and private study. Texts and images from this collection may not be used for any commercial purpose without prior permission from Duke University.

All copyrights that exist in this material have not been transferred to Duke University. When use is made of these texts and images, it is the responsibility of the user to obtain additional permissions as necessary and to observe the stated access policy, the laws of copyright and the educational fair use guidelines.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Individual zine collection], David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

See Using the Zine Collections for additional information

Guide created by Amy McDonald and Kelly Wooten. "Reading Girls" image drawn by Cristy Road.