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Forrest J Ackerman Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: -
Date: Dec 1967

Biographical History


Forrest J Ackerman (no period after the middle initial) was born November 24, 1916 in Los Angeles, California. He saw his first fantasy film at age five and from that moment on his life and work was built around science fiction as fan, author, agent, publisher, editor and collector.

In 1923, at the age of seven, he was a charter member of the Science Fiction League and in 1930 he created The Boys' Scientifiction Club. In 1939 he attended the First World Science Fiction Convention, where he wore the first "futuristicostume" and sparked a tradition of fan costuming that continues to this day at science fiction conventions around the world; he has missed only two WorldCons in the ensuing 70 years. In 1946 he founded the Fantasy Foundation and helpd found the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society and the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F). In 1953 he received a unique Hugo Award for "#1 Fan Personality."

His writing began almost as early as his fan activities -- in 1929, when he won a contest at the San Francisco Chronicle with his original story of a trip to Mars. Since then, fifty of his stories have been published, including collaborations with A. E. van Vogt, Francis Flagg, Robert A. W. Lowndes, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Donald Wolheim and Catherine Moore, and his stories have been translated into six languages. He named and wrote the origin story for the title character of the Vampirella comic book series. In addition, he has ten non-fiction books (most on science fiction movies) and thirteen anthologies to his credit. His known pseudonyms include SF Balboa, Nick Beal, Walter Chinwell, J. Forrester Eckman, Jacques De Forest Erman, Laurajean Ermayne, Jone Lee Heard, Alus Kerlay, Alden Lorraine, Jack Parish, Spencer Strong, Fisher Trentworth, Allis Villette, Hubert George Wills, Weaver Wright, and Dr. Acula.

In addition to his own writing, Ackerman inspired or assisted many other future luminaries of the genre, including Ray Bradbury (whose first story was published by Ackerman), Ray Harryhausen, Charles Beaumont, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Stephen King (whose first story submission was to Ackerman's Spacemen magazine) and L. Ron Hubbard. He has represented some 200 science fiction and fantasy authors, including Hugo Gernsback, Andre Norton, A.E. van Vogt, and Jack Williamson, and was Ed Wood's "illiterary" agent. Ackerman is also credited with having coined the term "sci-fi" in 1954.

Ackerman edited, published, or otherwise assisted a number of science fiction magazines over the years, creating and inspiring a legion of fans. At the tender age of sixteen he became associate editor of Time Traveller magazine, the first-ever fanzine, and the next year became film editor of Science Fiction Digest. In 1939 he started his own magazine, Voice of Imagination, and later edited Famous Monsters of Filmland, Monster World, and Spacemen. He provided publishing assistance to The Daughters of Bilitis in the group's early days (that, and his several lesbian novels written under the name "Laurajean Ermayne," earned him the title of "honorary lesbian").

His love of the genre is not limited by national borders, as evidenced by his active contributions to film magazines from around the world, including the Argentinian La Cosa - Cine Fantástico, where he had a monthly column for over four years. In 1960, he introduced American readers to the longest science fiction series in history when he organized Ace Books' publication of an English translation of the German science fiction series Perry Rhodan (much of the translation was done by his German wife, Wendayne).

Over the years Ackerman amassed a comprehensive collection of science fiction, fantasy and horror film material amounting to some 300,000 items: books (including 500 editions of Frankenstein and Dracula), magazines, videos, photographs, clippings, manuscripts, autographs, toys, and movie memorabilia (among which is the head of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and a Martian death-ray machine from War of the Worlds). Until 2002 the collection resided in the 18-room "Ackermansion" in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles; he later donated a number of items to the Seattle Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, of which he is a board member. Among his friends are icons of the genre including Fritz Lang, Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff, and he has made cameo appearances in more than fifty films.

His efforts across a broad spectrum of the arts not only encouraged the organization and spread of science fiction and its fans, but also did much to foster the acceptance of science fiction as a respectable literary, art and film genre. He has truly earned the sobriquet "Mr. Science Fiction."

"I regard myself as a sci-fi sponge that should be squeezed for information and anecdotes as long as I'm here. So while I'm still around, squeeze me."
— Forrest J. Ackerman.

Scope and Contents of the Collection


The Forrest J Ackerman Papers consists of correspondence, subject files, manuscripts and science fiction material.

Correspondence (18 boxes, 1930-1967) includes incoming correspondence of Forrest J Ackerman, including fan mail and greeting cards, and outgoing correspondence. There is also some correspondence of others. Notable names found in correspondence include Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Hubbard College of Scientology, Christopher Lee, Andre Norton, Samuel A. Peeples, Robert Silverberg, A.E. Van Vogt, (Manly) Wade Wellman, and Jack Williamson. There is also a large amount of fan mail.

Subject files (2 boxes, 1951-1967) include advertisements, bank and tax forms, correspondence with organizations, clippings, notes, and published material including a book of Ronald Cobb's drawings autographed by the artist and a section on organizations to which Forrest J Ackerman belonged.

Manuscripts (1 box, 1962-1967) contains incomplete drafts of various issues of Famous Monsters and Monster World, manuscripts of several stories and a set of musical lyrics arranged alphabetically by title and subject. This series also includes manuscripts of others arranged alphabetically by author; authors include Isaac Asimov and Harry Harrison.

Science fiction (8 boxes, 1933-1967) is divided into three parts: Related material, Literary material, and Published material. Related material contains correspondence, catalogs, lists and published material relating to Forrest J Ackerman's work as an editor, agent and writer and includes a section of science fiction organizations to which Ackerman belonged. Literary material includes published works of Forrest J Ackerman arranged alphabetically by title of publication. Published material includes booklets, clippings and magazines concerning science fiction, arranged alphabetically by type and then by title; this section includes some foreign-language material.

The collection also includes two later accessions which have not been integrated into the main collection. 1978 additions (64 linear ft) contains a wide range of material, including art, clippings, memorabilia, correspondence, photographs and writings. 1991 additions (0.25 linear ft.) contains writings, published magazines, clippings, and a videotape. See the inventory below for full details.

Note that the two later additions, and each series in the main collection, restart their numbering with "Box 1." When requesting material, please be sure to include the series or accession date and box number to ensure retrieval of the correct items.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is subdivided into incoming and outgoing; incoming general correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the sender and all other correspondence is arranged chronologically. Subject files are arranged alphabetically by topic, while manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by title. Science fiction material is arranged alphabetically by type.

Note that each series is numbered separately beginning with "Box 1." Please specify both series and box number when requesting boxes to ensure that the correct items are retrieved.


Access Restrictions:


Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

Special Collections Research Center has substantial science fiction related holdings both in its manuscripts collections and in Rare Books. Please refer to the SCRC Subject Index for a listing of related manuscript collections and search the Classic Catalog for a complete list of books.

Subject Headings


Ackerman, Forrest J.
Asimov, Isaac, 1920-1992.
Bradbury, Ray, 1920-2012.
Norton, Alice Mary.
Norton, Andre.
Silverberg, Robert.
Van Vogt, A. E. (Alfred Elton), 1912-2000.
Wellman, Manly Wade, 1903-1986
Wollheim, Donald A.

Corporate Bodies

Science Fiction Writers of America.
World Science Fiction Society.


American literature -- 20th century.
Authors, American.
Editors -- United States.
Fantasy fiction, American.
Monsters in mass media.
Novelists, American.
Science fiction, American.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Manuscripts for publication.



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Forrest J Ackerman Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Gift of Forrest J Ackerman and Forest J Ackerman Estate, 1967-2010.

Table of Contents


Subject files


Science fiction

1978 additions

1991 additions