Ming Wathne

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Name: Ming Wathne
Alias(es): aka Mariellen Wathne
Type: writer, librarian
Fandoms: Star Trek, Star Wars, etc.
Communities:
Other: Corellian Archives, Fanzine Archives
URL: old internet home page Mariellen (Ming) Wathne Fanzine Archive Collection at the University of Iowa
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Contents

Ming Wathne was a Star Wars fan, a writer and zine editor of the fanzine Bright Center of the Universe, from 1991 to 2001. But her largest contribution to fandom was as the long-time librarian of the "Corellian Archives", which became the Fanzine Archives.

Ming wrote in 1993 of her most pleasent experiences in fandom: "Just meeting people sharing the same interests, talking, sharing, enjoying together. If I must single out MOST... starting (or taking over) the Library and seeing it grow! And being allowed the privilege of compiling and printing the Arando stories of Martha Wilson who has just published her first professional book..." [1]

The Fanzine Archive's Birth and George Lucas

  • Beginning in 1981 (perhaps earlier), [2] George Lucas requests that copies of all Star Wars fanzines be sent to him; the Official Star Wars Fan Club folds in 1986.
  • The zines are turned over to First Terran Enclave, and they ran it as a lending library from summer 1986 to December 1987.
Boxed zines in Ming Wathne's huge outdoor shed
Part of the Fanzine Archives
  • The zines resided in an unknown location and were not circulated for two years
  • In November 1989, Ming wrote a letter to Comlink and explains she is re-opening the lending library and hopes to have it up and running in the spring of 1990. Soon other fans were asking if she'd take copies of non-Star Wars zines, and she started collecting them, too, eventually remodeling her house to make shelf space for the hundreds, then thousands of different fanzines she acquired and cataloged. Local fans helped log in new zines, but was Ming's show for more than 20 years. The final version of her library became known as The Fanzine Archives: A Library for the Preservation & Circulation of Fan-created Material. The Fanzine Archives became a federally recognized, non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and circulation of fanzines. The Archives maintained an active circulating library of over 300 fanzines, and a permanent collection of over 3,000 titles.
  • In August 2008, the library was closed due to Ming's poor health. Ming asked fans to help her find a permanent home for the 3,000 plus zines she carefully accumulated and indexed. [3]
  • In early 2009, the Open Doors committee of the Organization for Transformative Works helped to place the Fanzine Archives with the Special Collections department of the University of Iowa Libraries as part of their Fan Culture Preservation Project. [4]

Remembrances

She died on December 17, 2010 at the age of 84, leaving behind a husband of 60 years, 2 sons and 3 grandsons.[5][6]

Memorial board set up at Escapade 2011
I met her over 25 years ago when she hosted the local science fiction club, and was already a huge, huge Star Wars/Harrison Ford fan. Mostly a gen fan and the librarian for the Correlian Archives (a SW and all-fandom, gen, het, and slash lending zine library) for many years, she co-produced SW fanzines and made a host of other contributions to fandom and science fiction fans. She was a frequent attendee at Mediawestcon and the LASFA conventions, as well as the occasional WorldCon, for decades." ~ Charlotte Hill, A Death in the 'Family.', December 20, 2010.
I first met Ming when she came to meet me at LAX in 1988 after I'd been to MWCON. The following year she, and her lovely husband, Sig, delighted me by coming to LAX and taking me back to their home in Santa Barbara in Sig's little plane. How wonderful! Ming and I then went to MWCON where we roomed together and did so for several more of MWCONs. Ming was such a live-wire, it's hard to imagine she's gone. We worked on fanzines together, roomed together, laughed together.... She was such an inspiration, always urging you on. I so enjoyed her company and am grateful to have known her. She will be sorely missed but has left us with many wonderful memories and a store of thousands of fanzines. Love to you Ming, wherever you are now." ~ Carolyn Golledge, December 24, 2010.

References

  1. from Comlink #57
  2. While perhaps not a requirement of Lucas at this time and more a courtesy, the editor on a flyer for Against the Sith #4 (April 1979) notes that "copies of Against the Sith were ordered by George Lucas and Gary Kurtz for their collections and the Lucasfilm archives."
  3. "Note: As of August 2008, the Fanzine Archives is closed due to health constraints of the Librarian. Thank you to all the fans whose creativity, effort and inspiration have made this project possible over the years. We are considering passing the library on to a new librarian, if we could find someone with the capacity to store the vast collection of zines, and the willingness to distribute them freely as a service to all fans. If you think you are this person, please send a real, paper letter to Ming Wathne" Closing note, August 2008.
  4. 62 boxes of zines were transferred to the University, where they were cataloged. Ming's Finding Aid is here and the list of other fandom Finding Aids is here: Fandom related Zine Collections at the University Of Iowa.
  5. OTW Blog Post noting memorial.
  6. After Ming's death, her husband requested that memorial donations be directed to a fund supporting this collection. Gifts in memory of Ming may be made by sending a check made out to The University of Iowa Foundation to: The University of Iowa Foundation, Levitt Center for University Advancement, One West Park Road, P.O. Box 4550, Iowa City IA 52244-4550
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