Printed Collections: Zine Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 PC/07
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      300+ zines (150 un-indexed)

Scope and Content

The Women's Library continues to document the development of feminism in the UK, and examples of '3rd wave' activity can be found within our Zine Collection. The Zine Collection began with a donation of 50 zines by Ladyfest London in 2002. This Collection comprises self-published magazines reflecting contemporary feminism and the attitudes and concerns of young women in the UK today. It currently includes over 150 indexed zines on topics ranging from music, feminism, art, fashion, food, politics, sexuality, gender, ethnicity, popular culture, travelling, relationships, parenting and much more. The Women's Library aims to collect and preserve women's zines from the 1970s to the present day.


'Zines' (produced "zeens") are non-commercial, hand-made magazines and booklets. Written, designed and published by their creators, these grass-roots publications are made simply and quickly on photocopiers and home computers. They fuse original artwork with images appropriated from the mainstream media and include writing that is creative, critical, personal and humourous.

Produced in small print runs from 10 to 10,000 copies, zines are ephemeral publications written on any number of topics. Due to their eclectic natures and amateur production values, zines exist on the fringes of popular culture, journalism, art practices, life writing, and academia. They are distributed by their creators through local, postal and internet-based networks and at events such as Ladyfest.

Whilst the history of zines dates back to the mimeo-graphed science fiction fan magazines (fanzines') of the 1930s, it was the fusion of punk culture and cheap photocopying rates in the late 1970s which saw a 'zine explosion' of DIY (do-it-yourself) cultural expression.

Traditionally, zine cultures are dominated by young men. However, the 'girl zine movement' of the early 1990s saw many young women and girls explore their experiences and voices within zines for the first time; inspired by the rise of the feminist and personal zines of the Riot Grrrl movement.

Young women make zines for a number of reasons: to explore their creativity, to make friends, to overcome isolation, and to think critically about the world around them. They blur genre boundaries by mixing together stories, essays, photography, rants, collages, lists, doodles, reviews, diary entries, and autobiographical confessions.

Zines are historical primary sources documenting women's everyday lives and cultural opinions. Zines are also a key tool in analysing 'third wave feminism', as young women explore their self-identities and redefine feminism in these publications.

The Women's Library collects zines and comics which reflect women and girls' experiences, interests and concerns in the UK today.


* Buszek, Maria Elena. Pin-Up grrrls: feminism, sexuality, popular culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. Reading Room 760.04428 BUS

* Sabin, Roger and Teal Triggs (eds). Below critical radar: fanzines and alternative comics from 1976 to now. Hove: Slab-O-Concrete, 2000. Reading Room 070.444 BEL

* Todd, Mark. Whatcha mean, what's a zine? the art of making zines and mini comics; with contributions by more than 20 creators of indie comics and magazines. Boston, Mass.: Graphia, 2006. Reading Room 070.5 TOB

* Emplive Riot Grrrl Retrospective

* Grrrl Zines Network

* Zineopolis, at the University of Portsmouth

Administrative / Biographical History

The Women's Library was founded in 1926 as the Library of the London Society for Women's Service, later known as the Fawcett Society. They ran the Library until 1977, when it moved to City Polytechnic, later known as London Guildhall University, and is now part of London Metropolitan University. The Women's Library moved to new premises in 2002, comprising a reading room, exhibition hall, lecture theatre, office and activity spaces. By 2008 The Women's Library was an Accredited Museum and the Archive Museum and Library collections were awarded Designated Status by the Department of Culture Media & Sport, as being of national and international importance.

For detailed corporate history of The Women's Library see The Women's Library Archive and Museum Catalogue

* The Women's Library; 1926-fl.2008

Access Information

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

Mainly by deposit, a very small proportion by purchase.

Other Finding Aids

The zines are not yeat catalogued (as at 2009) an online index was available at Additional guides in the form of Source Notes are available online.

Custodial History

This collection began with a donation of 50 zines by Ladyfest London in 2002. Subsequently several 'zine fests' were held at The Women's Library with attendees donating their zines to the Library. Zines were also collected by word of mouth, at feminist events and fairs either where TWL attended or where Friends of the Library collected material on behalf of the Library. Donations were also given directly to the Library. As at 2009 this was a very active area of collecting, with approx 100+ additional zines deposited in Jan 2009 at the TWL zine-fest.


The Women's Library welcomes donations of individual zines, issue runs, and personal collections. The Library collects zines which reflect women's lives, experiences, interests and concerns in the UK today. We accept all zines made by and for women (including trans-gendered women). We also accept some international zines to provide a context for the collection. If you would like to donate to the Women's Library Zine Collection please send your zines to: The Librarian, The Women''s Library, Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT, UK. Please include your contact details (name and email) and details of the zines if known (author, place and year of publication).

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds a Periodical Collection, including many popular and activist magazines - some self-published.