Confusingly, there are several groups called “First Fandom”:
- The historical First Fandom, which encompasses anyone involved in sf-related activity from the late 1920s through the first Worldcon in 1939 — though sercon fanhistorians may stick strictly to the period Jack Speer defined below.
- A club made up of a subset of those fans. And,
- A descendant club that lets in anybody who’s been active in the sf community for 30 years. Members of this last especially like to conflate the groups.
In his theory of Numerical Fandoms, Jack Speer defined First Fandom as the fannish era of 1933 through 1936. However, the term has come to encompass fandom from its earliest days — including what Speer called Eofandom, the founding of the Science Fiction League and the Scienceers in the late 1920s — through the late 1930s.
As far as we know, centenarian Bob Madle is the last survivor.
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|(Speer) - The period up to 1936. It was marked by interest primarily in science and science-fiction. Fanzine material consisted mainly of forecasts of lineups in the pros, interviews with prominent authors, fan fiction relating to the pros, fan science fiction, novelty fiction by groups of pro writers, new advances in science, discussions of why s-f is in a rut or sex in science-fiction or the relative important of plausibility and good style. Douglas Webster uses the term to indicate the first fans of Great Britain; Carnell, Gillings, Hanson, Mayer, et al. who continued dominant into 1938, and were mainly interested in the aforementioned subjects, and also in sociological questions.|
(2) The Club, First Fandom
In its early literature, it described itself as:
A fun-loving organization like the Shriners and Cooties. And First Fandom is for the old-timers. The date of December 31, 1937 has arbitrarily been made the cut-off date. Anyone who can show any connection with any aspect of science fiction fandom prior to that date is eligible for membership.
Lynn Hickman published the First Fandom Bulletin (aka First Fandom Magazine) in the 1960s, and Dave Kyle published First Fandom News Letter in the ’80s and ’90s. It presented the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award.
They had a distinctive triangular membership patch and the motto, "First Fandom is not dead, only doddering."
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|No direct relation to the era. Don Ford, Bob Madle and some others organized this group too close to our deadline for any of its activities to become evident. Its membership is restricted to folk who indulged in any sort of fanac before 1938, and apparently it is intended as an historical and continuity-maintaining group.|
(3) The Modern Club
The group calling itself "First Fandom" today is descended from that First Fandom club, but no longer has many true First Fandomites as members and has abandoned the requirement of actually having been active during the First Fandom era.
Membership today encompasses "dinosaurs," those very few fans left who engaged in fannish activities up through the first Worldcon, which was held over the July 4, 1939, weekend, and "associate members," who have been active in fandom for at least 30 years.
The club continues the First Fandom Hall of Fame Award for contributions to the field of science fiction -- whether as a fan, writer, editor, artist, agent or combination -- dating back more than 30 years, and the Sam Moskowitz Archive Award for excellence in science fiction collecting. They are usually presented annually during the Hugo Awards ceremony at Worldcons.
The current president of the club and editor/publisher of Scientifiction: The First Fandom Report, a quarterly club newsletter, is John L. Coker III. Jon D. Swartz and Coker are the editors of the First Fandom Annual, published since 2016.
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