Collection ID: YCAL MSS 258

Collection context


Zilboorg, Gregory, 1890-1959
Correspondence, writings and photographs that document the translations, psychoanalytic practice and scholarship of Gregory Zilboorg, the relationship between Gregory and Margaret Zilboorg (neé Stone), and Gregory Zilboorg's photographic portraiture.
6.26 Linear Feet
Materials in English, Russian and French.


Acquisition information:
Gift of Margaret Zilboorg, 1992.
Rules or conventions:
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Scope and Content:

The correspondence, writings and photographs in this collection document the translations, psychoanalytic practice and scholarship of Gregory Zilboorg, the relationship between Gregory and Margaret Zilboorg (neé Stone) and Gregory Zilboorg's photographic portraiture. Most of the papers date from the 1940s and early 1950s and document Zilboorg's personal life and writings (including translations and writings on the history of psychiatry). The papers illustrate the work of a prominent analyst at a time when psychoanalysis had a significant influence on the New York literary circle in which Zilboorg worked.

Writings (Series II) consists of notes, drafts and proofs of several of Zilboorg's publications. The publications include short articles and lectures, books (History of Medical Psychology and Sigmund Freud), translations from Russian to English (including the play "He, the One Who Gets Slapped") and two original playscripts.

Photographs (Series III) includes informal snapshots and studio portraits of Gregory Zilboorg and several portraits of others (likely by Zilboorg). Subjects of these portraits include Diego Rivera and Jean Piaget.

While the papers described here do not date from Gregory Zilboorg's early years in Kiev and Petrograd (St. Petersburg), readers may consult the James and Eugenia Zilboorg Papers, YCAL MSS 259 for his letters to his brother James Zilboorg, 1915-1959.

Biographical / Historical:

Gregory Zilboorg was a psychoanalyst and historian of psychiatry. His many writings and lectures situated psychiatry within a broad sociological and humanistic context at a time when psychoanalysis was gaining importance in literary culture.

Zilboorg was born in Kiev on December 25, 1890 and studied medicine in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). In 1917 he served in the Ministry of Labor for two presidents (Aleksandr Kerenskii and Georgii L'vov). In 1919 he emigrated to the United States and for a time translated plays from Russian to English while studying medicine at Columbia University. After graduating in 1926, he worked at the Bloomingdale Hospital and eventually established a psychoanalitic practice in New York City. From the 1930s onward, Zilboorg produced several volumes of lasting importance on the history of psychiatry. The Medical Man and the Witch During the Renaissance began as the Noguchi lectures at Johns Hopkins University in 1935. This volume was followed by History of Medical Psychology in 1941 and Sigmund Freud in 1951.

Zilboorg's analytic practice brought him into contact with prominent figures in New York's literary and theater milieu. His patients included Marshall Field, George Gershwin, Lillian Hellman, Ralph Ingersoll, Kay Swift and James Warburg. Another of his patients, Moss Hart, drew on his experience in psychoanalysis when writing the musical Lady in the Dark.

Zilboorg was also an avid photographer. His portraits of John Farquhar Fulton and Henry Sigerist were featured in obituaries published in the Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, Inc.

Zilboorg married Ray Liebow in 1919 and they had two children (Nancy and Gregory, Jr.). He married Margaret Stone in 1946 and they had three children (Caroline, John and Matthew).


The collection consists of three series: Correspondence, Writings, and Photographs.


Beinecke Rare Book Library
121 Wall St
New Haven, CT 06511, USA