Save HYMAG! The World's Largest Magazine Archive Needs Your Help

by Christina Donoghue on 13 November 2020

There's a reason magazines are never out of fashion thanks to HYMAG, but the world's largest magazine archive needs your help.

There's a reason magazines are never out of fashion thanks to HYMAG, but the world's largest magazine archive needs your help.

Holder of Guinness world record for the most extensive collection of magazines, HYMAG (formerly known as the Hyman Archive) is home to over 150,000 publications (2,000 of those being unique publications), and it needs your help.

Sitting in an 18th-century former cannon foundry in Woolwich Arsenal, the magazine archive is, to put it frankly, an endless jungle of culture on paper. The collection is comprised of various magazines, pamphlets, brochures and zine paraphernalia - collected by its founder and mutual lover of all things magazine-y, James Hyman. The archive was officially started in 2011 after Hyman realised the potential of his so-called library and wanted to offer others the chance to access material that couldn't be found anywhere else. (Fact: Over half of the titles kept at HYMAG do not exist anywhere else, not even in the British Library!)

Despite the archive being on the brink of collapse last Summer and going into administration, it was luckily saved… until coronavirus kicked it back down. When realising HYMAG were going to receive little to no financial help from the Government due to the pandemic, Hyman had no choice but to turn to the public and ask for help. As a result, a fundraiser was created at the beginning of October for the mammoth collection. In other words, the future of HYMAG's physical and digital archive is down to us magazine lovers to save it from being sold off forever.

The collection is crucial for many reasons, aside from being a vital documentation of cultural history it has proved itself to be indispensable when it comes to the work and research of countless academics, curators, students and creatives alike. Covering over 170 years-worth of print publications, the magazine mecca is home to more than 2,600 British, Italian, French and American fashion titles dating back to the 1930s, among those is the first-ever issue of Playboy published in 1953, featuring Marilyn Monroe. Not to mention its sky-high shelves are also littered with iconic yet now-defunct titles including Spare Rib, Blitz, and sleazenation.

Here at SHOWstudio, rather than competing against the physical world of print, we believe the digital world only enhances it, widening its scope and people that can be reached via the internet. Both digital and physical mediums work alongside each other, supporting one another as they are used as continual sources of inspiration for hopeful youngsters scouring fashions pages to nostalgic elders, scrolling internet archives day and night. Now, more than ever, it's never been more crucial to preserve history digitally. Every single magazine that sits in the archive is a crystalised moment in time, offering multiple perspectives told by many people in countless languages. HYMAG has been preserving magazines through its physical archive and digitalising them so that future generations can read the content and context at precisely the same time. Preserving the archive digitally means the material reaches an international audience which would be - for want of a better word – incredible.

At the time of writing, 70% of HYMAG's target has been reached with over £14,000 being donated by over 260 supporters. As of the beginning of this week, the archive announced on their Instagram they only had 15 days left to reach their 20,000 target. If you'd like to be a HYMAGhero you can donate via the link here.




20 July 2015
Intrigued by the assertion that ‘print is dead’, we put the spotlight on infamous style mags of the past; Cheap Date, Nova, Lipstick and more.

Essay: Print

20 July 2015
Print: Tory Turk on archiving James Hyman’s collection of 50,953 magazines.
Back to top