Hugo Awards may be given out retroactively, along with the regular Hugos, to works and people eligible 50, 75 or 100 years prior to a current World SF Convention, and of course for years in which the regular Hugos were not given out. (Whether or not to give them out is a left to the host Worldcon.)
The purpose of the Retros is for today's fans to judge the work of the past, not for them to try to replicate what voters "back then" would have chosen. The Retros were the brainchild of Bruce Pelz.
Retro Hugos have thus far been awarded four times – the first time was in 1996 at L.A.Con III for works and people eligible in 1945 (but awarded for 1946); in 2001 (at the Millennium Philcon for works and people eligible in 1950 (but awarded for 1951), in 2004 at Noreascon 4 for works and people eligible in 1953 (but which would have been awarded in 1954), and in 2014 at Loncon 3 for works and people eligible in 1938 (but which would have been awarded in 1939. The first actual Hugos were awarded at the 1953 Worldcon for works and people eligible in 1952, but the next set was not given out until the Worldcon two years later, so the last retro Hugos filled in the blank.
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