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Zines at the Sallie Bingham Center

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Kelly Wooten
Research Services Librarian, Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture, Rubenstein Library

What are Zines?

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; colorful 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."

Download the Bingham Center Mini-zine

Using Our Zine Collections

The zine collections are open for research, but they do not circulate outside of our reading room. Options for access include:

Copyright and Citation

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.

Zines have particular concerns that users should consider when doing research with zines, especially if they wish to reproduce them in any way. Please see the excerpt below from the Zine Librarians' Code of Ethics or read the entire Code of Ethics here
"There are many different uses of zines for which one should seek permission. For students and researchers who want to use excerpts or even images in an academic paper that is not going to be published in print or online, a citation is usually enough. If one wants to publish an image from a zine in print or online, we recommend obtaining permission from authors. There are some gray areas or casual uses for which zinesters may not usually request advance permission, for instance, posting a picture from a zine or a zine cover on social media or in a blog, usually with a short credit including the title of the zine and/or the author. Copying an entire zine, even for personal use, is generally not a respectful practice unless the creator specifies permission or produces a zine under an appropriate Creative Commons license.

Researchers or journalists writing extensively about a particular zine creator or community should get in touch with the relevant people directly, when possible. The zine library/archives holding their works is not a proxy for the people who created them, but librarians/archivists can and should direct researchers towards those creators when they can."

Preferred Citation

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