Bust Magazine records, 1993-2023

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BUST (Media Organization) and Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture
Debbie Stoller, Marcelle Karp, and Laurie Henzel began producing Bust, a third-wave feminist women's magazine, in New York, N.Y., in 1993 as a photocopied zine. It subsequently grew into a women's lifestyle magazine, published quarterly. This collection documents the behind-the-scenes work required to put together Bust. Materials include issue production binders; layouts and copy-editing material; biographies of contributors; article submissions; column material (Girls, Fashions, The Shit, etc.); photographs; advertisement documentation; correspondence (letter and email); press coverage of BUST; promotional material; material related to the publication and promotion of the book The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order; and a variety of graphic items. Acquired as part of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women's History and Culture.
32 Linear Feet (25 boxes)
Material in English
Collection ID:


Scope and content:

This collection documents the creation and production of Bust magazine, beginning in 1993 in New York City. Materials relate to the creation and editing of issues, art and editorial decisions, feminist perspectives from the creators, readers and those published in the magazine, as well as material documenting the business of running a magazine. Significant topics in this collection relate to third wave feminism, 1990s and 2000s DIY print and underground culture, processes of publishing including ad sales, photographs, proofs and printing costs, and popular culture of the 1990s through the 2020s. Materials in this collection are primarily typed or handwritten materials, emails and faxes, and photographs. The bulk of the materials are production binders, which relate to the content and creation of the magazine. There is also a significant quantity of material from Laurie Henzel's work as art director. Additionally, there are materials relating to the early days of the magazine, and correspondence from readers dating from the early 1990s through the mid-2020s. Folders may contain printed materials of various sizes.

The collection is organized into the following series: Production Materials, Correspondence, Outreach and Events, and Visual Materials.

The Production Materials series contains materials directly related to the creation and publication of the magazine. It is organized into 4 subseries: Production Binders, Production Files, Issue Production Files and Bust's art director, Laurie Henzel's files. Henzel's files include her notebooks from 1999 to 2012. Contents of the notebooks range from Henzel's doodles and drawings to her to-do lists.

The Correspondence series has early correspondence, which is often printed emails relating to submissions to the first issues of Bust. Later correspondence includes letters to the editor that date from 2003 to 2019. Letters to the editor can also be found in the Production Binder subseries, where noted. Many letters to the editor are often handwritten and handcrafted.

The Publications and Outreach Series contains materials related to events and other projects undertaken by the magazine. This includes a proposed Bust TV show on MTV, and the 1999 book The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order, written and edited by Karp and Stoller, featuring new and favorite writings from the magazine. Additional materials include a New York Time interview with Henzel and Stoller, and a poster advertising Bust's Craftacular event.

Visual Materials contains both photographs and original artwork. Photographer and subject information is identified where known, however in many cases photographs are unlabeled. Formats include contact sheets, negatives, mixed media, drawings and photographic prints. Many of these images were produced through photoshoots or were submitted to the magazine.

Biographical / historical:

Bust Magazine was founded in 1993 by Marcella Karp, Laurie Henzel and Debbie Stoller. Started as a publication xeroxed clandestinely at Nickelodeon's office where the trio worked, Bust grew to a glossy, full color magazine that still publishes as of 2024. Influenced by the DIY and underground scenes of 1990s New York and Sassy Magazine, Bust was created in response to mainstream women's magazines, like Vogue and Cosmo. Henzel, Karp, and Stoller published under the pseudonym Celina Hex, Betty Boop, and Areola respectively for the first issues. Early issues relied on submission of art and writing from friends and friends of friends. Many of the tasks of running the magazine Henzel, Karp, and Stoller learned themselves.

The tagline of Bust, "For Women Who Have Something to Get Off Their Chest," speaks to the ethos of the magazine. Unabashedly feminist, pro-sex and pro-craft, Bust has featured politicians, actors, comedians, musicians, activists and other celebrities as covers. It has an active and engaged readership, as seen from the abundance of letters to the editor in the collection.

Stoller, Henzel, and Karp self-published the magazine before selling it to Razorfish Studios in 2000. Karp departed the magazine in 2001. Following the dot-com bust in the aftermath of September 11th, 2001, Razorfish Studios folded and Henzel and Stoller purchased the magazine back in 2002. Bust was purchased in 2022 by Street Media, LLC.

Acquisition information:
The Bust Magazine records were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book Manuscript Library as a gift from BUST magazine in 2001-2024.
Processing information:

Processed by Meghan Lyon, March 2009

Accession 2021-0054 added by Laurin Penland, July 2020

Updated by Leah Tams, May 2023

Collection fully re-processed by Colette Harley in April 2024.

Accessions described in this finding aid include 2001-009, 2009-0082, 2010-0101, 2015-0040, 2015-0097, 2021-0054, 2023-0013 and 2024-0025.

Materials were previously processed in varying degrees. In some cases, materials are retained in their original folders. For the production binder series, files were removed from the binders and rehoused in archival folders, maintaining original order where possible, but are otherwise chronological where possible.


Accessions were combined and arranged into 4 series: Production Materials, Correspondence, Outreach and Events, and Visual Materials.

Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard


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Access Note. Collection contains original electronic media formats which are closed to use. As of May 2024, the Rubenstein Library lacks the equipment necessary to access Syquest carriers. Contact Research Services with questions.

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The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

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Preferred citation:

[Identification of item], Bust Magazine Records, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.