Washington Science Fiction Association

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The Washington, DC club, one of the older continuing clubs. It was founded in the Fall of 1947 as the Washington Science Fiction Society (WSFS) by seven people (Russell Swanson (the first president), Robert Briggs (vice president), Franklin Kerkhof (secretary-treasurer), Bob Pavlat, Chick Derry, Phyllisann Courtis, and Reginald β€œRay” Courtis) who had met at Philcon I. The next year it changed its name to Washington Science Fiction Association. The club met every other Sunday, in the Transportation Building, in Washington, DC, until 1953.

For Chick Derry's memories of this period, see Primordial WSFA by Chick Derry.

May 19, 1953 was the date of the Great WSFA Farewell Party when some of its most active members (including Karen Anderson, Lee Jacobs, George Earley and Dave MacInnes) moved out of town. None-the-less, WSFA remained an unusually old and stable club with an unusually old membership (averaging in their mid-30s!).

Sometime in the ’50s, WSFA rented an apartment on O Street to be a clubhouse. The experiment quickly failed due to cost. For a time, the club met the first, third and fifth (if any -- then the meeting was a pure party without any business meeting) Fridays of each month in members' homes. But by 1956, the club had settled on nearly always holding its meetings at the home of Elizabeth Cullen on West Beach Drive in NW DC. This continued until ill-health ended her hosting in about 1967.

In 1967, Alexis Gilliland started hosting First Fridays at his home, which continued until 2006. Third Fridays over the years met at many fan's houses, including the Pavlats, Jay and Vol Haldeman, Kent Bloom and Mary Morman's, the Jack Heneghan/Normandy residence, the Burgess', Lewis/Peacock home, the Ginters'.

During the 60s, WSFA usually had around forty active members and meetings were attended by 15-20. Well-known fans who were members at the time included Joe and Jay Haldeman, Jack Chalker, Bob and Peggy Rae Pavlat, Dick Eney, Bob Madle, Banks Mebane, Alexis and Doll Gilliland, Don Miller, and Joe Mayhew.

Starting in 1949, they began publishing Quanta, and in 1953 held the first Disclave. Disclaves were held sporadically at first, then every year from 1965 through 1997. In 1959, WSFAn Dick Eney published Fancyclopedia II -- it wasn't a WSFA project, however.

In 1960 meetings moved to the first and third Fridays, which still remains the schedule. In 1963, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society (BSFS) was founded by WSFA members returning late at night on a Trailways bus from a WSFA meeting to their homes in Baltimore.

The first issue of The WSFA Journal was published in March, 1965 by Dick Eney and Don Miller, but Eney dropped out with the third issue, leaving Miller as editor for its first and most prolific ten years. Except for a three year gap, 1975-78, it has been published regularly ever since. Son of the WSFA Journal began in 1969.

In 1975, Don Miller founded the Potomac River Science Fiction Society (PRSFS).

The second series of The WSFA Journal and the Son of the WSFA Journal was started by Somtow Sucharitkul, Joe Mayhew, Jack Lechner, and others, and has been published approximately monthly ever since. All the second series issues are online at the WSFA website.

In 1980, WSFA hosted a relaxacon, Datclave, to commemorate February having a fifth Friday, and it continued to hold February or March relaxacons each year through 1985. Datclave II was held in 2008 as February again had a 5th Friday.

It has run the Washington regional, running Disclave from 1950 -- 1998 and Capclave since 2001. It ran Smofcon 22 in 2004 and the World Fantasy Convention 2003.

In late 1984 Somtow Sucharitkul and Timothy R. Sullivan left WSFA as a result of the Dunegate feud and founded the short-lived Washington Alternative SF Association (WASFA).

WSFA Press was started in 1989, and through 1992 published a book by each Disclave's GoH. It was revived in 2005.

WSFA has also been heavily involved in Worldcons. It ran the losing Washington in 1950 bid. Subsequently it ran Discon in 1963 and Discon II in 1974, and ran a number of losing Worldcon bids (DC in 1960, DC in 007, and DC in 2011.) Well-known deceased members of WSFA: Bob Pavlat, Chick Derry, Joe Mayhew, Don Miller, Dick Eney, Doll Gilliland, Pat Kelly.

From Fancyclopedia 2 ca 1959
see Washington, DC

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