Posts tagged: history

National Library Week: Libraries Transform – the Past

By , April 11, 2016

This week is National Library Week, and the American Library Association has selected “Libraries Transform” as its theme. While the Nashville Public Library has received widespread recognition in recent years, we have a long history of innovation and outreach to our community.




Books in Schools

As early as 1910 the Nashville Public Library was actively involved in getting books into the hands of children in schools. Mayor Hilary Howse praised the efforts of chief librarian Mary Hannah Johnson, and declared the library to be a “university of the people” for the educational opportunities it provided to all citizens, rich and poor, young and old.


Teenagers at the library in 1960s


Young Modern’s Den

Though it is a far cry from today’s technologically sophisticated Studio NPL and Teen Centers, the Young Modern’s Den of the early 1960s offered both educational resources as well as entertainment. Here, one couple learns to dance, while others take a look at the latest newspapers, enjoy a Coke, or look for sources for a school project.


Bookmobile in rural area



The bookmobile operated as a mini branch library on wheels, serving residents of Davidson County from the early 1940s until 2008. Though it’s hard to believe today, much of the county remained rural for most of the 20th century, and the bookmobile offered important services to those in outlying areas.


Stewardess at Airport Reading Room


Airport Reading Room

The first of its kind in the nation, the Airport Reading Room opened in 1962, though it lasted less than a decade. It provided a space for travelers and airline crews to unwind in between flights, like the stewardess shown here.


Books for checkout at a grocery store



Yet another innovation was the development of the “booketeria” concept – a small collection of books available for self-service checkout at local grocery stores. This 1953 scene is inside Logan’s Super Market in Belle Meade. Library Director Robert Alvarez guides a patron on how to check out a book.


Puppeteer Tom Tichenor


Tom Tichenor

Tom Tichenor is the father of the Nashville Public Library’s tradition of puppetry. In 1938, while a student at Hume-Fogg High School, Tichenor performed “Puss in Boots” for the Children’s Department of the Nashville Public Library. In addition to his long association with the library, lasting 50 years, Tichenor wrote plays and books, performed on television, and was part of the Broadway production of Carnival in New York City.

The tradition of puppetry at the Library lives on through the work of Wishing Chair Productions.

Today’s Library

Today the Nashville Public Library has 21 locations and offers access to more than 2 million items, including e-books and downloadable music and movies. The Library continues to lead in innovative services and programs, garnering national recognition for its Civil Rights RoomLimitless Libraries partnerships with schools, Bringing Books to Life preschool literacy program, and other programs and services. In 2010, NPL received the National Medal for Museum and Library Science – the highest honor given to libraries in the nation.

Participate, Visit, and Learn!

Sign up for a library card.

Find a branch near you.

Check out our events calendar.

Explore a timeline of Nashville Public Library’s history.


Nashville Banner, Feb. 26, 1910.

Nashville Room Historic Photographs Collection, images P-2195; P-2205; P-1184; P-2252; P-2738; held by the Special Collections Division.

Making the Ryman: Lula Naff

By , March 14, 2016

Exterior of RymanGuest blogger, Sara, shares one of her favorite Nashvillians with us today.

Lula Naff is the woman behind shifting the Ryman Auditorium from a religious venue to the entertainment destination it is today. In observance of Women’s History Month, I thought what better way to show off Nashville, the Public Library, and women than by reintroducing this famous woman that many may not know about but whose existence helped to shape one of the city’s greatest event venues.

Today the Ryman is known for musical events, the Grand Ole Opry, Country music, and excitement. But, it wouldn’t be known by these and other descriptions if it hadn’t been for Lula Naff. Her remarkable decision making and innovative ability to book diverse events have allowed the Ryman to maintain its historical run as a “must-see, must-do” for both locals and visitors to Nashville who crave a great time. Ms. Naff’s early influence of seeking various forms of entertainment for public and private viewing has become the catalyst for other venues attempting to gain larger audiences in Nashville. Though originally conceived as a building used for worship, debt and poor foot traffic forced Naff to invite wider varieties of performers to bring in more audiences and money.

Lula Naff was born in Fall Branch, Tennessee in 1875. She later worked as a stenographer for DeLong Rice Lyceum Bureau of Johnson City. She became widowed and, in 1904, the company moved to Nashville, bringing her and her young daughter along. After the company’s closure in 1914, Naff’s part-time job of booking Ryman Auditorium’s shows became her full-time career. By 1920, she was elevated to manager of the Ryman, becoming the first woman to fully manage the venue. It was because of her innovative ideas in booking such vast events and capturing more audiences that the Ryman was able to maintain its popularity and create an image of diversity. She retired in 1955, having worked over fifty years with the Ryman, and died in 1960 at the age of 85.


During her career, Naff recruited a variety of musical performers, speakers, and actors to the Ryman, including:

Tobacco Road Cast

Cast photograph of Tobacco Road signed to Lula Naff

*The Fisk Jubilee Singers, who began using the Ryman as their regular performance venue in the early 1900s.

* Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan Macy, in 1913, which was the first sold out show at the Ryman.

*Merchant of Venice, featuring Maude Adams as Portia in 1922.

*Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt speaking on behalf of the Girl Scouts Council of America in 1938.

*Tobacco Road in 1938. Naff won a lawsuit against the Nashville Board of Censors who tried to ban the play and arrest main actor John Barton for indecency.

*Grand Ole Opry, which began their live performances in 1943.

Want to learn more about Lula Naff? The Special Collections department at Main library branch has an extensive collection of Lula Naff’s personal memorabilia, dating from the early 1900s to her retirement. Or check out the segment NPT did for Carousel of Time.

- Sara



Josephine Groves Holloway, Girl Scout Hero

By , January 22, 2016

BN 1963-1091-6 Girl Scout Award“If you could see Camp Holloway, tour its area, have its program explained to you…you would never duck for cover when the Girl Scouts literally swarm your community at their cookie sale time. You would rush to participate in this program that is so clearly dedicated to the proposition of moulding young women to habits of honorable and purposeful citizenship.” – Robert Churchwell, Nashville Banner, July 13, 1960

* * *

Girl Scout Cookies have been helping troops across the country raise money since 1917, but not every girl has always been welcome in the organization. In Nashville, it wasn’t until 1942 that Josephine Groves Holloway successfully registered the first African American Girl Scout troop.

Holloway (pictured above) was working at Nashville’s Bethlehem Center when she first became interested in getting the young girls she worked with involved with the Girl Scouts. In 1924 she attended training with founder Juliette Gordon Low at George Peabody College for Teachers and started an unofficial troop. Even though her request to start an official troop was denied, that didn’t stop her from obtaining a copy of the Girl Scout handbook and using it with her girls.

Due to Holloway’s persistence and an increasing pressure from the national office to combat discrimination, the local council granted her request in 1942 and Troop 200 became Nashville’s first African American Girl Scout Troop. The foundation laid by Holloway in the black community contributed to a total of thirteen new troops in the eighteen months that followed, but segregation was still a reality and made activities like camping difficult.

During this time many state parks were closed to African Americans, but in 1951 land was purchased so that young black Girl Scouts in Middle Tennessee would have a place to camp. Named after its Nashville leader, Camp Holloway opened in Millersville, Tennessee in 1955 thanks to money gained from – you guessed it – cookie sales.  Today, Girl Scouts of all races and backgrounds enjoy the historic camp.

Holloway is a graduate of Fisk University and Tennessee A&I. She is also the first black professional Girl Scout employee in Middle Tennessee, holding positions as field advisor, district director, and camp director. She retired in 1963, but continued her community service and organized the first tuition-free volunteer tutoring program at Pearl High School and Head Elementary.  During the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 she was honored with the “Hidden Heroine” award and in 1991 the new Girl Scout headquarters on Granny White Pike opened the Josephine G. Holloway Historical Collection and Gallery.

As you order your Girl Scout Cookies this year, remember the legacy of Josephine Groves Holloway.

BN 1960-1811-9 AA Girl Scout Camp

Camp Holloway, 1960. Nashville Banner Archives.

For more information:

Trial and Triumph: Essays in Tennessee’s African American History
A History of the Cumberland Valley Girl Scout Movement

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution

By , December 6, 2015

Black Panthers Vanguard of the RevolutionThe Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution 
by Stanley Nelson

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution is a film about the history of the Black Panther Party containing rare archival footage and interviews with the people who were a part of it, including members Kathleen Cleaver, Emory Douglas, Ericka Huggins, and Jamal Joseph. It bills itself as the first feature length documentary to explore the party, its significance to the broader American culture, its cultural and political awakening for black people, and the painful lessons wrought when a movement derails. Filmmaker Stanley Nelson notes:

“The parallels between pivotal moments within the movement and events occurring in our communities today are undeniable. To better understand the Black Panther Party is to be able to better reflect on our own racial climate and collective responsibility to ensure basic rights are fulfilled, not diminished, and that voices of justice and dissent are celebrated, not silenced.”

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution will air on PBS in February, but you can catch a FREE special screening with Stanley Nelson in attendance as part of our Conversations@NPL series this Friday, December 11 at 6:00pm. You may recognize the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker from some of his previous projects like The Murder of Emmett Till, Freedom Riders, and Freedom Summer – the film that framed the discussion for July’s Conversations@NPL event with civil rights activists Bernard Lafayette and C.T. Vivian. Following the screening, Mr. Nelson will answer questions with WSMV’s Demetria Kalodimos.

Click here for more information about The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Hoopla Film Fest: Native American Films and Filmmakers

By , November 27, 2015

In honor of Native American Heritage Month, here are six films by and about Native Americans that you can stream on Hoopla for free with your library card:


Narrated by Benjamin Bratt (Qechua), We Shall Remain tells the history of the United States from the Native American perspective. With contributions from Chris Eyre (Cheyanne/Arapaho), Dustinn Craig (White Mountain Apache/Navajo), and other Native cast and crew members (including language and cultural consultants), this five-part PBS documentary series starts with the first Thanksgiving and explores the alliance between the Pilgrims and Wampanoag all the way through the modern day American Indian Movement.

2. REEL INJUN (2009)

Written and directed by Neil Diamond (Cree), Reel Injun examines the depictions of Native Americans throughout the history of Hollywood. Talking heads include individuals such as filmmaker Chris Eyre, actor Adam Beach (Saulteaux), and actors / activists Russell Means (Oglala Lakota) and Sacheen Littlefeather. Through discussions of stereotypes and the homogenization of cultures, Reel Injun demonstrates the importance of Native filmmakers telling their own stories.

3. A GOOD DAY TO DIE (2010)

Using oral histories and archival footage, A Good Day to Die recounts the life of American Indian Movement (AIM) co-founder Dennis Banks (Ojibwa). The documentary is co-produced and directed by Lynn Salt (Choctaw) and features the voices of activists like Clyde Bellecourt (Ojibwa), Lehman Brightman (Lakota-Creek), and of course, Dennis Banks himself.

4. EMPIRE OF DIRT (2014)

This woman-centric film chronicles the lives of three generations of First Nations women struggling to deal with their past and reclaim the future. Written by Shannon Masters (Cree/Saskatchewan), Empire of Dirt won the 2014 Canadian Screen Award for Best Original Screenplay. Film producer Jennifer Podemski (Saulteaux/Israeli) – who you may know from Degrassi: The Next Generation – also appears in the film and received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress.


Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls takes place in 1976 on a Red Crow Mi’gMaq reservation during a time when First Nations children were forced to attend residential schools. Starring Kawennáhere Devery Jacobs (Mohawk), the film is a fictionalized account of a teenager’s experience with death, drugs, and the erasure of her people’s traditions and culture. Rhymes for Young Ghouls earned Barnaby (Mi’kmaq) Best Director at the 2014 American Indian Film Festival.

6. ROAD TO PALOMA (2014)

You may recognize Jason Momoa (Native Hawaiian) as Khal Drogo on HBO’s Game of Thrones, but did you know that in addition to acting he directed, wrote, and produced 2014’s Road to Paloma? Meant to raise awareness about the real life issue of uninvestigated and unprosecuted rapes of Native American women on reservations by non-Native people, the film is about a biker on the run from the FBI after avenging his mother’s death.

What is ephemera?

By , October 12, 2015

What is “ephemera”? And how do you pronounce it, anyway? Ephemera (pronounced: “i-FEM-ur-uh”), refers to anything short-lived. Today we may be more familiar with the adjective, “ephemeral,” used to describe fresh-cut flowers, a misty morning, or the rapidly changing colors of a fading sunset. But the noun, used in a library or archives setting, more often refers to two-dimensional objects, usually made out of paper, designed for limited use, often for just one day. It can include items such as tickets, advertising broadsides, performance programs, handbills, and a variety of other items.

In the Special Collections Division at the Nashville Public Library, we use the term a little more broadly, encompassing those materials described above, but also including items that may be more enduring or substantive, such as essays, booklets, promotional literature, catalogs or other materials. In this instance, think of ephemera as a broad “miscellaneous” category. Typically, it is individual items that have come to us in isolation, without any accompanying materials and often no information about the item’s background. It might be a pamphlet someone found at a garage sale; a ticket stub between ancient floorboards; or any number of other items found under various circumstances.

For ease of access, we have grouped these random items into general subject categories, such as Businesses, Schools, Communities (including neighborhoods), Biography, Parks, and innumerable other headings. Let’s take a look at a few examples, to get a better sense of the variety of materials that come under this broad heading of “ephemera.”

Eddie Jones for Mayor, 1987


Eddie Jones for Mayor brochure, 1987

This brochure, from Eddie Jones’ 1987 campaign for mayor outlines his experience and qualifications for the job, his vision for the city, and encourages supporters to get involved in his campaign. He lost the election to Bill Boner. (Source: Biography Ephemera Subject Files).


Community Bridge and Liberation Message, 1972


Cover of Community Bridge magazine 1972

This is the cover from a local publication serving Nashville’s African-American community in the early 1970s. It includes articles about a national meeting of black social workers held in Nashville; the inequitable attention given public works projects in the Music Row area, while neighborhoods in North Nashville needed maintenance and upgrades; and other subjects. Advertisements for black-owned businesses and events of interest to the community are also included. (Source: Black History Ephemera Subject Files).










Nashville Conservatory of Music Recital, 1905


Nashville Conservatory of Music recital program, 1905


As a student at the Nashville Conservatory of Music, Ellen Lovell gave a piano recital on Jan. 27, 1905. This program shows her portrait on the cover, as well as a full listing of the performances and performers at the recital. (Source: Schools Ephemera Subject Files)






Although the majority of materials in the Special Collections Division’s Ephemera holdings date from the 20th century, it’s not uncommon to find items from the 19th century as well.


Fearless Railway Threshing Machines, ca. 1878


Ad for horse powered saw 1878

This illustration is from a catalog brochure for products of the Fearless Railway Threshing Machine Company, dated around 1878. George Stockell was a Nashville dealer who served as an agent of the company, which was headquartered in New York state. Most of the company’s products used literal horse-power, with one or more horses walking on a treadmill-like device to drive gears, belts, and machinery – which included devices like a thresher or a saw. This particular contraption was listed with a retail price of just over $200 – but did not include shipping charges from New York to Nashville. (Source: Businesses Ephemera Subject Files).

The Ephemera Subject Files in the Special Collections Division at the Nashville Public Library contain literally hundreds of documents related to a tremendous variety of subjects relating to Nashville’s history. Search the catalog for “Ephemera Subject Files” to learn more.

- Linda B.


Back to School: A Lesson in the Forgotten History of Civil Rights

By , August 28, 2015

The March on Washington book coverA. Philip Randolph was an activist who spoke out about inequality and labor rights in the early part of the 20th century, helping to pave the way for civil rights even before Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcom X. He spearheaded the original 1941 March on Washington movement before organizing the now famous 1963 event in which Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. He was also the leader of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – the first African American led union to be accepted into the American Federation of Labor. His passion for equality even caused the Wilson administration to label him “the most dangerous negro in America” in 1919.

Tuesday marked the 90th anniversary of the first meeting of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters – “the greatest labor mass meeting ever held of, for and by Negro working men,” according to the Amsterdam News. If you’re an educator, consider incorporating A. Philip Randolph into your civil rights curriculum. Below we’ve compiled a list of key dates and resources available through the library.

A. PHILIP RANDOLPH (1889 – 1979)


Co-founded radical civil rights publication, The Messenger, with Chandler Owen and became involved in labor organizing.

Organized the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters union and with the help of new amendments to the Railway Labor Act, successfully re-negotiated worker contracts with the Pullman Company in 1937.

Pullman Porters Union Meeting Final 2“Pullman Porters May Form Union.” Afro-American 29 Aug. 1925: 15.

Started the March on Washington movement with Bayard Rustin and A.J. Muste, resulting in the Fair Employment Act (Executive Order 8802) which prohibited employment discrimination in the national defense industry.

Organized the Committee Against Jim Crow in Military Service and Training (which would later become the League for Non-Violent Civil Disobedience Against Military Segregation) with Grant Reynolds, resulting in Executive Order 9981 which abolished racial segregation in the Armed Forces.

Organized the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a nonviolent demonstration urging the government to abide by the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, with Bayard Rustin and other civil rights leaders including Martin Luther King, Jr., who gave his “Give us the Ballot” speech at this event.

Organized the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom with Bayard Rustin and other key civil rights and labor leaders. This is the event where Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Reading List

A. Philip Randolph: Messenger for the Masses*
A. Philip Randolph, Pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement
A. Philip Randolph: Union Leader and Civil Rights Crusader*

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
A Long Hard Journey: The Story of the Pullman Porter*
Marching Together: Women of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters
Miles of Struggle, Years of Struggle: Stories of Black Pullman Porters
The Pullman Blues: An Oral History of the African American Railroad Attendant
Rising from the Rails: Pullman Porters and the Making of the Black Middle Class

March on Washington Movement
The March on Washington: A Primary Source Exploration of the Pivotal Protest*
The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights
When Negros March: The March on Washington Movement in the Organizational Politics for FEPC

Tie-ins with Tennessee History
The Civil Rights Movement in Tennessee: A Narrative History

Other Resources
A. Philip Randolph Institute
Pullman Porter Museum

* Children’s or young adult book

Things Good and Wholesome: A Culinary Adventure at the Archives

By , August 18, 2015

One of our most prized possessions at the Metro Archives is a rare cookbook compiled for the first Tennessee State Fair, held in Nashville at the fairgrounds in 1906. There are few of these left, and it’s an artifact that marks a tradition that has been part of Nashville’s history for over a century.


As the cover suggests, this collection of recipes is “tested and donated by a limited but distinctive number of Nashville housewives for the benefit of the Tennessee State Fair.” These ladies include Mrs. J.H. Acklen, Mrs. Ben Lindauer, and Mrs. Col. John Overton.

If you’re expecting traditional Southern cooking, you may be surprised by the eclectic selection in this little book. Some of the recipes have a Southern flair to them: South Carolina chicken, chess pie, and pralines. Others are more diverse, such as Charlotte Russe, brain timbales, and Alaska cream. It seems the contributors to this cookbook did more than share recipes with the public – they embraced diversity through food. Desserts and sweets make up a large portion of the recipes provided in this book.

We here at the Metro Archives have a sweet tooth, and so we tried one of these recipes as an experiment. All in the name of archival research, of course. cake-recipe-1906

My culinary curiosity was piqued by one recipe contributed by Mrs. Whiteford R. Cole. We have no records for the Coles in our collections. In, we discovered it is likely that Mrs. Whiteford R. Cole was Mary Conner Bass Cole, born around 1874 and married to the president of the Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroad (later of the Louisville and Nashville railroad). Her recipe is for Canadian mocha cake.

I was very interested in this recipe, largely because I wanted to know what made it Canadian and/or mocha. The recipe doesn’t call for any coffee or cocoa to give it the mocha flavor, nor does it call for anything distinctly Canadian. Nevertheless, it was cake, and who can argue with cake?

This 109-year=old recipe is fairly simple: butter, sugar, flour, sweet milk, lemon rind, eggs, and baking powder. To keep it as authentic as possible, I made it exactly as the recipe instructed. The result was refreshing and lemony-tasting, and had a texture similar to coffee cake. In fact, dunking the cake in coffee improved it even more.

Needless to say, the cake didn’t last long. After we put the word out that there was a 109-year-old cake in the Archives, we were able to share it with the rest of the library as well.


The end result: a perfect square of lemony goodness.

The interesting thing about cookbooks is that they become historically significant in their own right by making history personal. They may not record the great things, but they’re important in that they become a record of everyday life. They give clues about a particular geographic region, socio-economic class, or culture. The limited but distinctive number of Nashville housewives who submitted their recipes for the Tennessee State Fair cookbook in 1906 were, perhaps unknowingly, representing a piece of Nashville culture through the sharing of recipes and food.

- Kelley

Savor Summer: Nashville Brews

By , August 2, 2015

Nashville Beer coverThirty years before William Gerst entered into Nashville history, the city’s first brewery, the Nashville Brewery, opened on South High and Mulberry Streets at what would become the Gerst Brewing Company’s future home.

Gerst came from a brewing family in Bavaria and after coming to the United States in 1866, found employment at the Christian Moerlein Brewing Company in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gerst and Moerlein acquired the old Nashville Brewery property in 1890 and in 1893, Gerst became the sole owner.

When the state got ready to celebrate its centennial in 1897, Gerst saw an opportunity to market his product. He became involved in the exposition’s planning and made sure Gerst beer was available for purchase at local restaurants. His beer also won the gold medal at the exposition’s competition in which it was the only local brew.

Even though the brewery’s been out of business since 1954, today you can experience a taste of history with Yazoo’s Gerst Amber Ale – a brew made possible by a partnership between the local brewery and owners of the Gerst Haus Restaurant. In fact, folks can enjoy a variety of local craft beers from Yazoo to Jackalope to Fat Bottom to Black Abbey and many more. One of my personal favorites is the May Day Brewery in Murfreesboro. If you’re over 21, pick one, take a tour, and treat yourself to a tasting! Friday just happens to be International Beer Day.

If more knowledge is what you’re thirsting for, Nashville Beer: A Heady History of Music City Brewing and Nashville Brewing offer a spectacular look into the city’s rich brewing history including tons of great photos and ads, some of which come from the library’s Special Collections.

Other heady resources:
Encyclopedia of Beer
Drink: A Social History of America

Gerst Color

Brittingham, John. “Gerst Beer Heyday: 1890-1917.” Nashville Banner 6 Apr. 1976: 16-D.

Wm. Gerst Brewing Comp page29, 1st fl and 2nd fl

Nashville in the Twentieth Century. 1900: 29.

Express Yourself: Activism through Zines

By , July 24, 2015

Girls to Grrlz coverBECAUSE us girls crave records and books and fanzines that speak to US that WE feel included in and can understand in our own ways. – Excerpt from the original Riot Grrrl Manifesto

*     *     *

The concept of the zine dates back to the 1930s when science-fiction fans started producing do-it-yourself magazines containing news, reviews, and tributes to the latest sci-fi and fantasy literature. These small-run publications were called fanzines.

Eventually the idea spread to other genres and areas of interest, including what was to become known as the Riot Grrrl Movement. The term “Riot Grrrl” was coined by punk bands Bikini Kill and Bratmobile with Bratmobile members Allison Wolte and Molly Neuman releasing the first Riot Grrrl zine in 1991.

In Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist & Queer Activism in the 21st Century, Jenna Freedman notes that “punk rock and riot grrrl community ethos are fundamental to zines, not just as the cultures that birthed them…but also as what separates them from other self-publications,” continuing on to say “that zine producers are not only people who have been relegated to the margins but also people who have chosen to claim the margins.”

The Riot Grrrl movement, for example, empowered young women to speak up against sexism and as author Trina Robbins explains, “one of the first Riot Grrrl actions was to protest violence in a traditionally feminist collective way, by reclaiming the mosh pit, that crushing and frightening all-male area in front of the band at concerts. To make a space for themselves, the girls formed packs and forced their way to the front en masse, each protecting the other.”

Today, many communities use zines as a form of self-expression and activism. Check out the POC Zine Project and the Queer Zine Archive Project online. Locally you can explore the Watkins Zine Library and the Brainfreeze Comics & Zines shelf in The Groove. And if you’re up for a road trip, the Fales Library Special Collections at NYU houses The Riot Grrrl Collection.

Inspired to tell your own story? Make a Tiny Zine!


  • 1 letter size (8.5 x 11) sheet of paper
  • Markers, scissors, glue, old magazines, scrap paper, etc.


  1. Construct – Fold and cut paper to make a book (see infographic below).
  2. Personalize – Write, draw, paint, cut, glue, and decorate your zine.
  3. Distribute – Make photocopies and share / trade with friends and family!

Make a Tiny Zine Infographic

Histories & How-tos:
Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl
Ephemeral Material: Queering the Archive
From Girls to Grrrlz: A History of Comics from Teens to Zines
Make a Zine!
Make Your Own History: Documenting Feminist & Queer Activism in the 21st Century
Stolen Sharpie Revolution: A DIY Zine Resource

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