In this reoccurring series, members of the Special Collections staff will introduce some of our favorite objects found in the stacks of Special Collections at Princeton.
Emma Sarconi, Reference and Outreach Specialist for Special Collections | “Austrian jacket (“Herm Weghofer jun.” in Bad Ausee, Austria) owned and worn by Zelda, undated”
Emma, what do you do at Princeton?
As a member of the public services team, I answer questions from researchers, work in the reading room, teach classes, and work on special projects. In short, I connect folks to our collections.
And what is one of your favorite things?
The Austrian jacket (“Herm Weghofer jun.” in Bad Ausee, Austria) owned and worn by Zelda, undated from the Zelda Fitzgerald Papers (C0183, Box 11).
How did you first come to see this item?
I don’t remember! I think Gabriel Swift showed it to me when I first started working here.
What are three words you would use to describe it?
Beautiful, Enchanting, Thought-provoking
And why is it one of your favorite things?
The way Zelda Fitzgerald is remembered almost as if she is a character in the story of the early 20th-century literary scene instead of a real person who lived a real life. There is a tendency among popular culture to flatten her into the tragic wife of a genius, plagued by mental illness (and if only she could have just taken a Xanax on the banks of the Seine ala “Midnight in Paris”). Encountering this jacket, you can’t help but think about Zelda as a flesh and blood person. A person with a *body* who wore jackets — not just a character in someone else’s story; not just a person defined by their brain. “Look at how small she was!” people say when they open the box. That effect is a powerful thing. Add to that the fact that F. Scott supposedly gave her this jacket when she was institutionalized in Switzerland and you have a really emotional, resonant, and unique object.
Anything else you want to share?
Don’t miss the small deer embroidery on the lower back! it’s precious