The National Fantasy Fan Federation, also abbreviated as NFFF, founded in 1941, is the oldest international science fiction organization extant. Its members are called “Neffers.”
At one point or another, most old-time actifen belonged to the N3F, but it has long been considered to be almost a separate, parallel fandom.
Today, it sponsors an annual amateur short story contest, gives the annual Neffy Awards and publishes a number of fanzines, including The National Fantasy Fan, the descendant of its original newsletter, Bonfire. Activities are supported by nearly 50 offices and bureaus.
Non-voting memberships are free.
The club motto is “Science and Fantasy.”
- 1 Officers
- 2 Directorate
- 3 N3F Fanzines
- 4 History
- 5 NFFF Press
- 6 Bureaus
- 6.1 Anime/Comics Bureau
- 6.2 Artist Bureau
- 6.3 Birthday Card Bureau
- 6.4 Book Review Bureau
- 6.5 Collector's Bureau
- 6.6 Comics Bureau
- 6.7 Complaints Bureau
- 6.8 Convention Calendar
- 6.9 Convention Coordinator
- 6.10 Correspondence Bureau
- 6.11 Fanclubs Bureau
- 6.12 Fandom Introductory Bureau
- 6.13 Fan-Pro Activity Coordinating Bureau
- 6.14 Fan Research Bureau
- 6.15 Fanzine Clearing House
- 6.16 Film Bureau
- 6.17 Fische Bureau
- 6.18 Follow-Up Bureau
- 6.19 Franking Service
- 6.20 Games Bureau
- 6.21 Gourmet Bureau
- 6.22 Information Bureau
- 6.23 Information Technology Committee
- 6.24 Ladies' Auxiliary
- 6.25 Manuscript Bureau
- 6.26 Membership Activities Bureau
- 6.27 N'APA
- 6.28 Neffer News Bureau
- 6.29 Neffy Awards Bureau
- 6.30 Neo Fan Fund
- 6.31 New Fanzine Appreciation Society
- 6.32 Overseas Bureau
- 6.33 Photo Bureau
- 6.34 Plancom
- 6.35 Pro Bureau
- 6.36 Publications Bureau
- 6.37 Publicity Committee
- 6.38 Recruiting
- 6.39 Round Robins
- 6.40 Short Story Contest
- 6.41 Social Media Bureau
- 6.42 Tape Bureau
- 6.43 Taping Bureau
- 6.44 Teaching SF Bureau
- 6.45 Video Bureau
- 6.46 Welcommittee
- 6.47 Writers' Exchange Bureau
- 7 Life Members
- 8 More Information
The N3F has two Officers, the President and the Treasurer. The N3F President is elected by the membership. The Treasurer is appointed by the President subject to Directorate approval. The President may create Bureaus, appoint Bureau Heads, and set up new activities, all subject to review by the Directorate.
Originally, the Advisory Board, the Directorate is the governing body of the N3F. It consists of five members elected each year by the club membership. A Chair, who guides the activities of the Directorate, is chosen each year from among the newly elected members of the Directorate.
In the past, there was also a Vice-Chair who took over if the Chair was unable to function.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|Directorate The Advisory Board of the N3F.|
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|Directorate Variant name for the Advisory Board.|
The need for a general fan organization was perceived in the earliest days of fandom, but one did not actually get off to a successful start until Damon Knight wrote "Unite — or Fie!" (a play on the Michelist speech "Mutation or Death!") for the October 1940 issue of Art Widner's fanzine Fanfare, in which he said in part: "I sincerely believe that a successful national fantasy association is possible, that it could offer a needed service to every fan, and that it could be established today."
Reader response soon led to the formation of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (abbreviated NFFF or N3F) with 64 charter members, including E. E. Smith, Ray Bradbury, and Knight. While knight's interest soon waned, Widner, Louis Russell Chauvenet (who coined the term "fanzine") and other prominent fans of the day guided the initial development of the club.
The organization had several early successes, including but not limited to publication of a book by Dr. David H. Keller and sponsoring (with Forry Ackerman and the LASFS) the first Fancyclopedia. For much of its existence, however, the N3F was not held in high regard; it became something of an ignorant backwater in the hands of those whose only activity was in the N3F and who behaved as if the N3F was synonymous with fandom rather than just a part of it.
Accordingly, the club was the subject of much satire and derision and it languished for many years. (Some fans claimed that the sole function of the N3F should be to introduce new fen to our way of life, but, in fact, the N3F has not had such an activity in decades.) However, the organization endures while others have come and gone.
1940s and '50s
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|NFFF - National Fantasy Fan Federation. With the decline of New Fandom, damon knight and Art Widner suggested forming a new general fan organization along certain lines, and fans were asked to lend support and suggestions. In 1941 it began functioning after a preliminary election, and President Chauvenet drew up a rather long constitution, describing minutiae of procedure to be followed. Due to the Fincom report, this was not adopted, and tho approval of a constitution was finally secured, an interregnum began in June 1942. This was broken by Evans' Blitzkrieg, but only temporarily.
America having entered the War in late 1941, more and more active fans were removed from activity by going into the Army and other overtime occupations, so that the government structure envisioned for the NFFF could not be worked. The NFFF was to include all fans, it was hoped, determined by activity tests. The US would be divided into several regions, each of which would have certain functions within itself; there was also some provision for affiliating local groups. The central administration of the Federation, besides the elected officers and the Advisory Board, would include several committees, and a permanent judicial or legal body of certain middle-aged fans. The NFFF was expected to perform such functions as coordination and standardizatin, and undertake such projects as were forwarded by the Plancom and approved by the Directorate.
Battle Creek Plan
A plan for managing the N3F.
The club started out with no constitution, and the one drawn up was cumbersome and rejected by the membership when it was submitted. A constitution was finally adopted, but the machinery remained cumbersome, and the negligible results for the early labor plus the difficult requirements for nomination (all under the shadow of the stress of war) caused insufficient candidates to file to fill the necessary offices when the first administration lapsed.
E. E. Evans, Plancom chairman of the first year, got a new set of officers by Blitzkrieg methods; but before the organization could gather momentum again Evans, the new President, was forced to drop activity. VP Tucker turned the presidency over to Evans' neighbor (at the Slan Shack in Battle Creek, Michigan), Al Ashley. It being conceded that the old Constitution was unworkable, Ashley planned to carry out Evans' idea of a pyramiding state-regional-national scheme with many officers (the "Battle Creek Plan") including as "citizens" all who could be called fans, while Harry Warner spoke for an organization with few officials and stiff membership requirements.
A wrangle over whether the directorate should pick one plan for submission to the membership or have a vote on both led to stalemate, again the terms of officers ended with no replacements, and the N3F lapsed. In the fall of '43, at the height of Cosmic Circle furor, Ashley questioned the Board members with a view to revising the group under an emergency for-the-duration constitution; this was realized next year, with Walt Dunkelberger in the Presidential chair. Elections were resumed in 1947.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|The National Fantasy Fan Federation, the chief general fan organization. (Forbye, it's international, despite the name.) It was organized in 1941 by elements of the Stranger Club of Boston, Mass, stimulated by damon knight's article "Unite -- or Fie!" in Art Widner's Fanfare, which had suggested formation of a new general organization with the decline of New Fandom. In 1941 the group began functioning after a preliminary election, and President Chauvenet drew up a rather long constitution. Plans were laid to finance the Federation by a tax on activity by amount, rather than by equal dues; a majority of members had approved this notion when Widner advanced it, but when the Finance Committee offered a concrete plan (omitting calculation of how small the sums would actually be) a great babble went up about "penalizing activity", "paying tribute", usw. This prevented the adoption of the constitution at first; an altered one was finally adopted, but did not prevent the Interregnum in June 1942. And after Evans' Blitzkrieg the removal of active fans by wartime difficulties made it impossible to work the governmental structure envisioned for the N3F. Tho this trouble, as explained under Interregnum, was eventually resolved, the N3F has never since gotten out of a sort of permanent embryonic state. It continues to day by an act of faith among those who Believe in it, but few knowing outsiders would dissent from some such opinion as the one Harry Warner expresses:
"I've heard this assurance that big things were around the corner for the N3F so frequently... it's funny by this time. The N3F invariably has a half-dozen energetic members who can get things done, and several hundred who are either content to let the others work hard, or jealous that the others are active. The organization may be justified by serving as an outlet for fans during a period of six months to a year -- the period when they're just getting acquainted with fandom, with a yen to read long lists of fan addresses, high-sounding words about purposes, and so forth. After that, a verbal arrangement with two or three other people can accomplish more than the N3F has ever done."
The organization started out with fine plans for recruiting fans, inspiring activity, setting up regional subordinate organizations (for New England, Dixie, the rest of the East, the Midwest, West [Mississippi-Rockies], and Pacific areas), selecting convention sites, and so on. The central administration of the Federation, besides the elected officers and the Advisory Board, would include several committees and a permanent judicial or legal body of certain middle-aged fans.
It is said to have a membership of about 400, give or take 100 either way, and supposedly publishes a frequent bulletin, The National Fantasy Fan. But the N3F has never managed to be an important force in fandom, tho some of its aims -- organizing, standardizing, and coordinating fan activities, providing a common meeting ground, and publishing informational booklets like this one -- would be worthwhile. It is so large and unwieldy that it never gets off the ground; the normal official lethargy of fan organizations is multiplied by the fact that the N3F officers consult by correspondence; and the "benefit list" of projects whose fruits are going to drop into the N3Fers laps Real Soon Now is a standing joke in fandom.
The chief complaint seems to be inertia among the membership, which require to be treated like the rank-and-file of large mundane organizations. N3F officials have usually included active and competent fans, even some BNFs of legendary status like Speer, Warner, and Rapp, but the routine of administering a flaccid mass of marginally interested stfnists is such as to drive personalities of the sort fans have into gafia, Insurgency, or paper-doll-cutting. The efficient chaser of details who forms the backbone of any administrating organization is not a type plentiful in fandom, and even when found can usually get greater rewards of egoboo through individual fanac. Fans would probably do better at coordination -- which was the original idea, after all -- and the activities which call for it to exercise only this function, like the Round Robins (chain letters) and N3F APA are the most successful in the club; but as a rule activities to coordinate is just what the N3F lacks.
At the start of the Korean War, an N3F member issued a fanzine attacking the Red Cross and other groups, and had his publications banned from the mails.
- “Robert Tucker Vice President Of Fantasy Fans” by Wilma Tolley, The Pantagraph News, December 17, 1944, p. 18.
The ’60s was mostly a quiet decade for the organization, in contrast to the high-power feuds that racked it during the ’50s. There was a moderate amount of excitement in 1963 when former director Alma Hill started impeachment proceedings against Al Lewis, who was then the chairman of the Directorate of the NFFF. Lewis had written an article in the club's fanzine, The National Fantasy Fan, defending the worth of the newszine Fanac to its readers, which came across as an unfavorable review to the consternation of many readers.
Hardly had that fracas blown over when Lewis was once again the subject of an impeachment proceeding, this time by Clay Hamlin. Lewis had defended Earl Kemp from libelous charges leveled at him by an otherwise little-known fan, D. Bruce Berry, in a fanzine article. Ron Ellik reported, tongue-in-cheek, on the two impeachment attempts: "That Lewis sure is a scoundrel."
In May 1963, John & Bjo Trimble hosted what was billed as "The First Annual N3F Swim, Beer, and Good Clean Fun Afternoon" in Los Angeles.
The club’s annual story contest began, with cash prizes to the winners. The judges included Fred Pohl (1966).
The club used to run a Hospitality Room at Worldcons; the N3F Welcome Room was something like a Neffer-focused Fanzine Lounge, with literature aimed at explaining fandom to neofen. In 1965, George Scithers wrote in his Discon I Report:
Although the N3F is subject to internal feuds, a strong defensive reaction to intentional and unmeant criticism, and a tendency to charge off in several different directions at once, it is a well-established and stable organization. It has been in existence since 1941; it has a big enough treasury and enough expertise to carry out what it sets out to do, within reason. The relationship between the con committees and the N3F, therefore, has been one of mutual assistance rather than dependence. A hard-pressed con committee can call on, and get, help from the N3F; a particularly strong con committee can offer substantial assistance to the N3F during the con.
This continued through the early 1970s, but stopped for unknown reasons.
The growth of general fandom in the 1970s also expanded the club, but most new members were short timers.
The club went through a period when a very few active members kept the N3F up and running.
Email brought a great increase in membership, from around three dozen up to 250 members. The use of email meant it was easy to distribute many fanzines at little cost. First, The National Fantasy Fan and then the old letter and review zine, Tightbeam, became monthly. The N3F apa, N'APA, which had dwindled to two members exchanging emails, was brought to a regular bimonthly schedule. New N3F fanzines, came out, each sent to all members by email.
The club also published a new series of “Fandbooks” (fan handbooks).
In January 2021, N3F President George Phillies sent out a mass email to members and others asking them to publicize the N3F on Parler and Gab, two social-media sites widely considered to be a hangout of right-wing extremists. Controversy ensued and Phillies doubled down saying that he was essentially a-political and merely seeking fans.
Among other reactions, Bill Burns said he would no longer announce publication of N3F fanzines on eFanzines. David Speakman, a member of nearly 40 years who had been awarded a rare life membership, publicly broke his ties with the club.
See Mike Glyer's File 770 article for much more: eFanzines Drops N3F Zines After Group’s President Seeks to Promote It on Parler and Gab.
A small press established in 1948 to publish The Sign of the Burning Hart: A Tale of Arcadia by Dr. David H. Keller.
To date this is the only hardbound book published by the Press, although N3F has published many fanzines, fandbooks, directories and other materials over the years.
In 1965, it published Science Fiction Title Changes by Michael Viggiano and Donald Franson. For the N3F's 75th anniversary in 2017, it published A Sea of Stars Like Diamonds, a book of short stories by Neffers, edited by George Phillies.
The club, historically, has had many departments, called bureaus, led by BuHeads. Some of them are:
The Anime, Comics and Manga Bureau supports discussion of all aspects of this hobby. BuHead is Kevin Trainor. It has published Mangaverse since 2004.
Artists from this bureau supply artwork for the N3F clubzines. Technique, subject matter, and publication are part of its discussions. BuHead is Cedar Sanderson.
Birthday Card Bureau
A bureau that sends birthday cards to members. The Bureau Head is Judy Carroll.
The Bureau has also on and off, been in charge of sending renewal notices to members whose memberships are expiring.
Book Review Bureau
The Book Review Bureau tries to persuade members to write at least short reviews of all new novels.
In the 1960s, it published a fanzine, The Collector's Bulletin (Ned Brooks, ed.), and bibliographies such as the Science Fiction Collections Index. Don D'Ammassa was buhead in the mid-1970s.
A bureau that did something for comic-book fans. Tim Marion headed it for a while. It was superseded by the Anime, Comics and Manga Bureau.
The Bureau published a monthly list of forthcoming Convention events. BuHead: Mindy Hunt.
Convention dates, conreports, and passing out flyers at conventions was the purpose of this bureau.
Organized by Ev Winne, its first BuHead, in 1951, this bureau seems to have recruited members to write letters to other members. Correspondents as of February 1952 were Robert "Jack" Anderson, Richard Bergeron, K. Martin Carlson, G. M. Carr, Lyell Crane, Henry Ebel, Bob Farnham, Eva Firestone, Nan Gerding, Norbert Hirschhorn, Julian May, Charles Moslander, Ray Schaffer, Landis Shepherd and Stan Woolston.
Latest buhead is Judy Carroll.
Fred Lerner was BuHead in the late 1960s.
Fandom Introductory Bureau
Its purpose was to inform new fans of the history of SF and SF fandom. It seems to have been absorbed into the Fan Research Bureau.
Fan-Pro Activity Coordinating Bureau
The bureau and its zine, Ionisphere, exist to increase interactions between readers and writers, publish interviews with writers and fen, promote contact information and web locations, and support convention activities. Bureau Head is John Thiel.
Fan Research Bureau
The Fandom History and Research Bureau seeks to document the history of the N3F and “our hobby.” The bureau head is John Thiel. It has published Origin since 2018.
Fanzine Clearing House
A Fanzine Clearing House distribution service was handled by Seth Johnson. The service paid for ads in some of the prozines to sell bundles of fanzines to science fiction readers who could be potential neofans. He also took it on himself to locate new recruits directly by scanning prozine letters columns for addresses, then sending them packages of fanzines. The problem was, some of the fanzines he sent out were so poorly produced and written that it often had the opposite effect. This led some fanzine publishers, most notably Ted White, to claim that Johnson had no understanding or appreciation of fannish writing.
A latter-day bureau that, since 2018, has published Films Fantastic, a zine devoted to reviews of old sci-fi movies.
One of the many bureaus of the N3F, created in the 1980s. We have no idea what it did, but Paul Doerr was the Bureau Head. It is no longer active.
The Follow-Up bureau asked former members why they left the N3F. Lenny Bailes was one-time head.
The Franking Service performs the original purpose of the N3F, redistributing fanzines to club members. Nowadays, their work is purely electronic.
Supports gaming by N3F Members, including board games, RPG, miniatures, diplomatic games and LARP. In the 1960s, it published the fanzines Gamesman and The Gamesletter. Around 1968, it had a War Games Division that published Picklehaube.
It’s devoted to fans interested in recipes used by SF fans and pros, and is headed by Cedar Sanderson. She publishes Eat This While You Read That, recipes associated with famous authors.
We don’t know what kind of information this bureau dealt in, but Don D'Ammassa was in charge of it in the mid-1970s, and Don Franson before that.
Information Technology Committee
Launched in 2018, it maintains the N3F's web pages, social media pages, and fanzine mailing system. George Phillies is the BuHead.
The N3F Ladies’ Auxiliary was one of the organization’s bureaus in the 1950s. The N3F proper never had any rules about members’ gender, so why they needed a ladies’ auxiliary is unclear, especially since all the women in the auxiliary apparently belonged to the main club as well. Florence S. Anderson founded the group in 1949, and served as president; she apparently quit and the auxiliary became inactive in 1950. The auxiliary’s activities included running the club’s lending library. Betty Sullivan was Librarian.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|The N3F has a Manuscript Bureau which is much used by its fanzine-publishing members like Racy Higgs, but of it least said is soonest mended.|
Wilkie Conner was buhead in the early 1950s.
Membership Activities Bureau
Its activities are lost in the depths of time.
N'APA, the Neffer apa, has been going since 1959. It’s open to all members of NFFF. The Official Editors during the ’60s included Robert Lichtman and Fred Patten.
Neffer News Bureau
Sheryl Birkhead was buhead in the mid-1970s.
Neffy Awards Bureau
The Bureau manages the nominations and voting for the Neffy Awards (originally the Laureates).
Neo Fan Fund
A scheme of Harriett Kolchak’s, started in the early 1960s, for helping out new fans who found themselves without sufficient money at conventions. See Neofund.
New Fanzine Appreciation Society
Reed Andrus ran this in the mid-1970s.
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|(Evans) - The Long-Range Planning Committee of the NFFF. It was to consider all suggestions for new activities to be undertaken by the Federation and work into shape those that it considered worth while, but after it had finished, they had yet to be approved by the Board, EEEvans was chmn of the Plancom, and sent out carbon-copied sheets to the Committeemen carrying ideas and comments, received comments and ideas, and sent out more sheets. In an active quarter, the ides considered included: establishment of a Welcom, compilation of a history of fandom, recognition of official poll taker, publications of a fannual, reader's bureaus to advise which stories in the current pros were worth reading (disapproved), voting by all fans on time and place of conventions, official stationery, public relations idea, awards, federal subdivision of the country, and others.|
Works in support of pros, notably by co-publishing The N3F Review of Books.
A round robin is a packet of chain letters (or emails) written about a subject or author. The letters follow a route headed by a robin master. Most N3F robins had four to six members. Three members were required for each topic to begin "rounding." A few of the N3F’s long-running robins were on SF&F Films, Star Trek, Time Travel, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey.
One of the oldest bureaus in the club, it was once the most active and popular, but is now idle.
Dick Eney considered this use of round robin “inaccurate” in Fancyclopedia 2, reserving the term for round robin stories.
Short Story Contest
Oversees the annual N3F-sponsored short story contest for amateur SF writers.
Social Media Bureau
Supports the N3F's pages and groups on social media sites.
The Tape Bureau stockpiled authors’ readings from cons. Ann Ashe was was buhead in the mid-1960s, and Joanne Burger beginning in 1969. Ann published at least five issues of the N3F Tape Bureau Newsletter from 1965–67.
The separate taping bureau read and recorded books for the blind.
Teaching SF Bureau
Headed by the pseudonymous Cathode Ray, this reports on stfnal TV events.
Welcomes new members to the club, pretty much as described under Welcommittee in previous editions of Fancyclopedia (below). The committee members used to be called “Hostesses.” One of them was Zeda P. Mishler, who wrote a remarkable letter welcoming BNF Charles Burbee in 1948.
|From Fancyclopedia 2, ca. 1959|
|A group of N3F members who contact new members and help them get acquainted with the club and its activities. Embarrassing passages have arisen from such events as the one in which Burbee, after several years of activity and fame, was "welcomed" to fandom. This group originally had a function (no longer exercised) of watching the prozine letter columns for promising letters from non-fans and having committee members in the same section of the country write them letters "welcoming" them into fandom and explaining what it is all about.|
|From Fancyclopedia 1, ca. 1944|
|The Welcoming Committee, a recruiting adjunct of the NFFF, which would watch the pro letter sections for promising letters from non-fans, and have committee members in the same section of the country write them letters "welcoming" them to fandom and explaining what it is all about.|
Writers' Exchange Bureau
Members of the Writers’ Exchange Bureau read and critique each other’s manuscripts. The current BuHead is Judy Carroll.
The N3F has granted Life Member status to several fans since its founding.
|Forrest J Ackerman|
|David H. Keller|
|E. E. Smith|
|Jon D. Swartz||2018|
- Official website.
- Art Widner audio (archived): An mp3 of Art Widner explaining how the N3F was founded and more... time: 12:50. Recorded at Corflu 25 (April 2008), Las Vegas, Nevada. (Audio courtesy of TheVoicesOfFandom.com.) Widner describes the founding of the N3F and along the way gives a general personal history including anecdotes regarding his fanzine YHOS, his 34-year gafia, his years as a teacher, the game TSOHG and more!
- List of Presidents of the N3F.
|This is a club page. Please extend it by adding information about when and where the club met, when and by whom it was founded, how long it was active, notable accomplishments, well-known members, clubzines, any conventions it ran, external links to the club's website, other club pages, etc.
When there's a floreat (Fl.), this indicates the time or times for which we have found evidence that the club existed. This is probably not going to represent the club's full lifetime, so please update it if you can!