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Zines at The Schomburg Center: Zine History

A resource guide to 'zines' at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Brief Zine History

xerox machineBelow is a brief history of zines and zine culture. The history outlines the major technology advances that enabled zine making more and more accessible. Due to the self-published and DIY-nature of zines, marginalized communities and people living alternative lifestyles have been drawn to zines as a place for critique, analyzing, and writing about their practices, realities, and interests. 



  • Mimeograph duplicating machine became available to users 
  • 1930- The first science fiction fanzine, "The Comet," was created


  • 1944- Xerography technology created


  • The Beat Generation begins to create and circulate zines increase their underground popularity


  • 1961 - IBM Selectric Typewriter introduced
  • Inexpensive offset printing became available and accessible to create alternative newspapers, comics, and writing


  • Azalea : a magazine by and for third world lesbians began publishing
  • Punk music scene begins to incorporate zine making into their culture. These zines often made political and social connections to punk music that is reflected in antiauthoritarianism, antiestablishment, and DIY-aesthetic. 


  • Copy machines because more popular and accessible for publishing and distributing zines. Commercial stores like Kinko's are founded which become important sites for zine making. 


  • E-zines began with the creation and publishing of born-digital zines 
  • Third-Wave Feminism adopts the zine making practice. Groups such as Riot Grrrl used zines as a form of cultural critique focusing on feminism, sexual freedom, and following a trajectory of women authored self-published materials. (Traces of the foundations laid out by texts like Azalea and earlier iterations).


Image credit: "Xerox Alto" by donjd2 is licensed under CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit