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Jerome Zerbe photographs and papers

Call Number: GEN MSS 1122

Scope and Contents

The collection documents Jerome Zerbe's work as a photographer and chronicler of mid-twentieth century celebrities and society events. Photograph albums assembled by Zerbe span his time as a student at Yale in the 1920s, his brief time as an artist in Hollywood in the 1930s, and his long career as a society photographer and paparazzo, notably as the house photographer at the El Morocco nightclub in New York. The albums also document his naval service in the Pacific theater as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's personal photographer during the Second World War. In addition to albums, photographs include loose prints and film negatives, most black and white. Zerbe's diaries include sometimes daily records of his work and social life, and span from his time at Yale to a few years before his death. Papers include subject files, often related to publishing projects, writings for Zerbe's society columns, clippings, correspondence, passports, and materials relating to Zerbe's home "Windsong" in Essex, Connecticut. Papers also include correspondence and other materials generated by Frederick R. Koch while he owned the collection from 1989 to 2013. Audiovisual materials consist of a recording of an interview with Zerbe.


  • circa 1880s-2000s


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Box 157 (audiovisual materials): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.

Conditions Governing Use

The Jerome Zerbe Photographs and Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. All literary rights, including copyright, as well as rights to photographs, held by Jerome Zerbe at the time of his death are the property of Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, not owned by Jerome Zerbe at the time of his death remain with the appropriate authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information about use of materials created by Jerome Zerbe, including licensing of photographs, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Frederick R. Koch, 2013.


Organized into four series: I. Photographs, circa 1880s-2000s. II. Diaries, 1925-1983. III. Papers, circa 1900s-2000s. IV. Audiovisual Materials, 1965.


28.01 Linear Feet (159 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

Jerome Zerbe

Jerome Zerbe (Yale 1928) was an American photographer. He specialized in photographing celebrities and society events, most notably as the house photographer at the El Morocco club in New York, and influenced the work of later paparazzi. In addition to his work as a photographer, Zerbe wrote society columns and during the Second World War served as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's personal photographer.

Processing Information

Collections are processed to a variety of levels, depending on the work necessary to make them usable, their perceived research value, the availability of staff, competing priorities, and whether or not further accruals are expected. The library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections as they are acquired, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.

This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and minimal organization.

Information included in the Description of Papers note and Collection Contents section is drawn from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Guide to the Jerome Zerbe Photographs and Papers
by Beinecke staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • 2021 August: Additional box of prints removed from boxes containing film negatives added to finding aid.
  • 2017 September: Finding aid updated to include additional photograph album.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
(203) 432-2977


121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511

Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.