|See also:||Zine, Archivist, Multifandom Archive|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
An online collection of fanworks, usually fanfic, providing a centralized place for people to post and look for stories. The term generally means a multi-author collection, most likely open to anyone to submit stories, occasionally moderated for content or quality. Most fanfic archives focus on a specific fandom, or a genre or pairing within that fandom, although some are open to all fandoms, such as the Archive Of Our Own or animemusicvideos.org.
Archives are generally intended to be at least semi-permanent, but time, money, and interest can affect their lifespans. Archives may fall victim to lack of funds, changing interests both on the part of contributors and maintainers, quick-moving technology, and fannish culture and expectations. Sometimes these archives shut down, with or without warning. Sometimes they are passed on to another archivist. Many older archives continue on but do not accept new submissions.
One option for preserving archives is Open Doors.
The earliest fanfiction archives were created by hand, with archivists collecting submissions via email and uploading, coding and creating appropriate links to relevant internet pages both inside and outside of the archives.
Although this can be a time- and labor-intensive process, some archives continue to work on this model.
A list of active X-Files archives from 1995 can be seen here. Most were ftp sites with a few web enabled sites. Gossamer, also X-Files started up in 1995. And by 1994, the newsgroups alt.startrek.creative and alt.startrek.creative.erotica began offering FTP archives (erotica offered slash). The Highlander mailing list HLFIC-L also had an FTP archive by 1996. Other mailing list archives in 1996: - jadfe Forever Knight slash, dsx (Due South slash), hlx (Highlander slash), dief (Due South), and fkfic-l (Forever Knight). The Due South fanfic archive moved twice in 1996 from the University of Maryland to a server in Australia and then on to the Hexwood Due South archive.A fan remembers a different time:
Another comment about early archives: was the era where themed fanfic archives were a thing. Some were ship specific. Some were fandom specific. Some were kink specific. Sometimes people just created archives to gather all their favorite fic in one place, manually recruiting authors off of other fiction archives, fan forums, web searches, etc. The upside of that is a lot of the good fic from that era was crossposted to 6 different archives... 
I wasn’t going to put this in the hella long answer that I just posted because it’s not really relevant, but does anyone else remember the old archives? The really ancient ones? That looked like this?
That was all. No description, no author, no pairing, no rating, no tags, no warning. You didn’t even get a hint as to which version of Star Trek the fic was about. Just a blank page with a line of document names. It took forever to download them only to find it was a NOTP or kinky or what. And I’m not saying y’all have it easy, but…
Y’all have it easy.# the good thing is # i have it easy too # which is awesome # fandom history # oh captain my captain was het # my fair jeanne was what we called genderswapping # it's about time was k/s # she moves in mysterious ways was m/omnipotent being in female form 
Early archiving was often a bit of a free-for-all. Authors often put disclaimers on their fiction saying it was okay for others to archive their work, but that they wanted to know where the stories ended up. Other authors didn't require the stipulation of notification. It wasn't uncommon to see comments by authors saying they had no idea where all their fiction was posted.
Archive sites had a variety of levels of permission. Some had none at all: one example of the latter is this disclaimer: "Due to the number of closed sites and absent authors these days, no attempt was made to get permission to archive. If any author finds a fic here that they don't want to have included on the site, email me and we'll discuss it."  A fan in 1997 stated in her fiction header: "I'm happy for the story to be circulated uncommercially, intact and with my name still attached." 
Modern archives are more likely to use some form of automated archiving software, allowing authors to upload their own stories. These archives often feature convenient functionality that hand-coded archives do not have. Some of the most common automated archive software packages are the Automated Archive and eFiction. On archives that use the Automated Archive software, a reader can input a search for very specific types of stories. On the Smallville Slash Archive, for instance, a fan might feel like reading an R-rated, angsty futurefic First Time for the Clark/Lex pairing, and easily be able to find every story in the archive that fits all those criteria. The eFiction software also lets readers filter stories through various criteria, and has many other appealing features, such as the ability to upload stories in chapters.
Archiving in 2009
Archive posting is very popular. The biggest archive, fanfiction.net, has over a million registered users. Some fandoms set up lots of efiction archives and hang out on the attached forums, and some forums set up multifandom archives to house the works of their members.
Amongst what is now LiveJournal-based fandom (including fans who have moved to LJ clones or forks such as InsaneJournal or Dreamwidth), archives have steadily declined in popularity since the late 90s. Some LJ-based fans maintain personal archives on their own webpages and post announcements of their stories to LJ, mailing lists, and other fan networks. Others use LJ as their primary archiving site, hosting their fic as LJ entries (rather than hosting them on an archive).
Posting fic to LJ has disadvantages, principally that LJ is not automatically searchable so stories must be manually indexed using newsletters, themed masterlists, and noticeboards; also, many stories are too long for a single LJ post and must be posted in parts or chapters. But authors keep control of their stories, so they can be easily edited or deleted, presented in an individual style, or locked to select audiences. And, critically, LJ's comments system makes it simple for readers to leave feedback, and for authors and readers to interact socially.
This scattering of fanac across multiple archives, social media sites, and message boards can make it hard for readers and writers to find each other. It's resulted in a lot of fannish infrastructure devoted to collecting and archiving links to fanworks, rather than the fanworks themselves. On LJ and similar sites, there are numerous noticeboard and newsletter communities, and, especially in HP, reccers like Painless J, who compile themed lists of works. Social bookmarking sites like delicious, Gennio, and Stumbleupon are widely used to collect everything from personal recs, to all fanworks in a fandom/ship/kink/genre.
Archive Of Our Own
The Archive Of Our Own is a project of the Organization for Transformative Works (as is the Fanlore wiki). It is a pan-fandom, multilingual fanfic archive, which features an innovative tagging system, the ability to bookmark stories, and enables challenge moderators to host and collect challenge stories in special collections.
Brainstorming for the Archive Of Our Own began in May 2007, and coding began early in 2008. Although still technically in "open beta," by September 2010, the archive contained over 100,000 works in over five thousand fandoms.
Meta/Further Reading: Archives
- How Other People Wreck Your Favorite FanFiction Archive by Randi DuMois, Archived version (2003)
- 'Elite' archives? (2004)
- History of Fan Fiction Archives by fanthropology dated May 23, 2007
- Fandom 1994-2000-ish/Part Two - 2012
Meta/Further Reading: Archiving Archives
- Silence in the library: Archives and the preservation of fannish history by Versaphile in Transformative Works and Cultures, Vol 6 (2011).
- Xie - Preserving fandom history and heritage, Archived version (2008)
- Avoiding Kamino’s Fate: Archives, Archivists, and the Preservation of Works of Fandom, Archived version (March 3, 2016)