Schlesinger Library Hosts Zine-Making Event

Photo by Y. Kit WuPhoto by Y. Kit Wu
The Harvard Crimson
October 23, 2015
By Kabir K. Gandhi and Beth Young

The Schlesinger Library offered students the opportunity to learn about zines and gain experience in the feminist tradition of zine-making in an event on Thursday evening.

The special collections library, located in Radcliffe Yard, is dedicated to the history of women in America and holds over 400 zines, which are are non-commercial booklet magazines produced by individuals or small groups of writers.

Zine styles range from artistic, hand-written, and sloppy to sharp and graphically designed, some with text cut-and-pasted from magazines. The content of a zine varies based on the personal preference of the maker, but a majority focus on political discussions and contemporary feminist struggles.

At the event on Thursday, students had the opportunity to assemble their own personal zines during an open workshop, using a collection of feminist magazines and newspapers from the library.

Samantha A. Acker ’19, who works at the library and attended the workshop, said that she was excited to learn about and make zines.

“I had never heard of a zine before I came down here. I think they’re really cool,” she said.

Zines became popular in the 1970s with the advent of inexpensive photocopying technology, which made the zine production process easier, according to event organizers Amanda E. Strauss, Honor M. Moody, and Sarah M. Hutcheon. They became an outlet for individuals to create short personal “scrapbooks” dedicated to their favorite musicians for dissemination among friends and beyond. Content evolved from music to feminism in the early 1990s following the “Riot grrrl” feminist punk movement, as authors and artists felt that they wanted their personal stories and perspectives to be circulated in a non-commercial format.

Now, the organizers said, virtually every zine is either anti-copyright or is published as a creative commons document.

Hutcheon, a research librarian at the Schlesinger, said the motivation for this event was to connect undergraduates to the resources of the library.

“We have so many great formats that the library collects; we want you to know we exist,” she said.

The Schlesinger Library holds a broad range of documents and readings, from feminist to culinary matters. The library was built in 1908 at Radcliffe College, and later renamed the Schlesinger Library in 1965.

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