By Kim Huett: It is my usual practice when a topic of fannish interest comes up to wherever possible to go direct to sources. Usually this means having a quick rummage through my collection to see what it might reveal. In regards to the question of the 1953 Hugo awards handed out at the Sunday Evening Banquet (held September 6 between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. in the main ballroom according to the program book) I turned to Fantasy Times. Whatever one thinks of James V. Taurasi (and opinions on that topic tend towards the colorful) it’s hard to deny that his newzine was the fanzine of record at the time.
[Kim sent scans from issues of Fantasy Times, excerpted below.] These selections from Fantasy Times add further evidence to the argument that the Fan Personality Award was voted on in exactly the same way and indeed on the same ballot as all the other awards. On the other hand Taurasi’s reportage on the convention doesn’t confirm that categories were dropped due to a shortage of votes. Instead he claims the problem was a matter of no clear winners which does seem every bit as likely as Warner’s lack of votes suggestion.
Fantasy Times, September 1953.
The winners of the Awards were: #1 Fan Personality: Forrest J Ackerman, who turned it down and gave it to Ken Slater of England. Bert Campbell will bring it back to England with him and present it to Slater.
There were no awards for short stories, novelettes or fan magazines, as there was no clear cut vote on these; too many named with too little vote for each.
It’s also interesting to note that even before the convention was held Lyle Kessler felt he had to issue a statement explaining the awards weren’t called the Hugos. He also seems to be capitulating on the topic and accepting the awards be called Hugos though I suppose you can’t call that an official naming.
Fantasy Times, August 2, 1953.
Lyle Kessler: There is no official name for the Awards themselves. It seems the word got around that they were to be called “Hugos” (after the father of science fiction, Hugo Gernsback). That isn’t so. If fans decide that “Hugos” are the proper name for the Awards they they shall be called “Hugos”.
I hope all this adds to your understanding of the matter.
[Thanks to Kim for sharing his research!]