Zerka T. Moreno papers are open for research

By , December 6, 2017

The Center for the History of Medicine is pleased to announce the opening of the Zerka T. Moreno Papers to research.

View the finding aid:  Zerka T. Moreno papers, 1930-2010 (inclusive), 1957-2000 (bulk)

0004864_ref Born in Amsterdam, Netherlands, on 1917 June 13, Zerka T. (Toeman) Moreno attended secondary school in the Netherlands before relocating to London, England, in 1932, where she attended technical school. At that time, she planned to become an artist or fashion designer, with a special interest in designing for the stage. Moreno moved to the United States in 1939, shortly after the beginning of World War II, and in 1941, arranged for her sister to move to Beacon, New York, for treatment at the Beacon Hill Sanatorium with J. L. (Jacob Levy) Moreno (1889-1974). That same year, Zerka T. Moreno became interested in J.L. Moreno’s study of psychodrama and group psychotherapy, and began studying under him, acting as his private secretary to earn her scholarship. When J.L. Moreno opened the Sociometric Institute in New York City, she became his research assistant and moved to work at the Institute (which was later renamed the Moreno Institute, and eventually relocated back to Beacon). Zerka T. Moreno continued to develop as a leader of group psychotherapy workshops and instructor, and worked directly alongside J.L. Moreno throughout the latter decades of his life.

In 1947, the two founded the journal Sociatry, which later became known as Group Psychotherapy, which published research regarding the social sciences of sociatry, psychodrama, and sociometry. During the 1950s, both Zerka and J.L. Moreno served as adjunct professors at New York University, teaching courses about psychodrama. She was the cofounder of the International Association for Group Psychotherapy and the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama, and spent much of her career traveling for psychotherapy and psychodrama workshops. After J.L. Moreno’s death in 1974, Zerka T. Moreno continued to work as a psychotherapist. With Merlyn S. Pitzele (1911-1995), she continued to attend to patients and offer teaching sessions in Beacon and New York City as well as countless American and international locations. In 1996, she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia, and in 2013, after breaking a hip, moved into a nursing home in 2013 in Rockville, Maryland. She continued to see patients from her bed at the nursing home until shortly before her death.

The collection reflects Moreno’s efforts to lead group psychotherapy sessions and provide instruction in the field of psychodrama. Records include workshop and training records, collected writings and publications, professional activities records, correspondence, personal papers, as well as records pertaining to the management of the Moreno Institute.

For information regarding access to this collection, please contact Public Services.

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