Scott and Zelda Document Their Lives

The Manuscripts Division is pleased to announce that the scrapbooks of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Class of 1917) and Zelda Fitzgerald are now online in the Princeton University Digital Library (PUDL). The Fitzgeralds’ daughter Scottie gave the scrapbooks to the Princeton University Library in the decades following the donation of most of the Fitzgerald Papers in 1950. F. Scott Fitzgerald saw life as raw material for literature. His gift for autobiographical observation and self-documentation can be seen in the way he kept his papers and scrapbooks. He chronicled his early life in “A Scrap Book Record, compiled from many sources of interest to and concerning one F. Scott Fitzgerald,” as he wrote boldly in white ink to label the volume. He traces his life from birth through Princeton and service in the U.S. Army during World War I, concluding with the acceptance of his short story Head and Shoulders for publication in The Saturday Evening Post (1920). Fitzgerald was perhaps inspired to keep scrapbooks by his mother, Mary “Mollie” McQuillan Fitzgerald, who chronicled his formative years until 1915 in The Baby’s Biography, by A. O. Kaplan, with Pictures by Frances Brundage (New York: Brentano’s, © 1891). Between 1920 and 1936, Fitzgerald compiled five other scrapbooks, in which he usually emphasized his published books and short stories, sometimes adding unrelated materials about his life, travels, and friends. Zelda Fitzgerald kept a scrapbook of her own until 1926, chiefly relating to her family and childhood in Montgomery, Alabama; and early married life with Scott and Scottie.

Scrapbook contents include newspaper clippings, book reviews, and interviews relating to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life and writing; tearsheets of magazine articles and short stories; dust covers and promotional announcements for books and collections; printed ephemera; formal studio portraits of the author, photographs of friends and acquaintances, and family photos (mostly small snapshoots) of the Fitzgeralds (Scott, Zelda, Scottie); memorabilia; and occasional documents and letters from authors, publishers, and friends. Many of the photographs and clippings are well known and have been often reproduced. But there are a few surprising items as well, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s check-stub book for the First National Bank of Princeton, October-November 1916, while he was a Princeton undergraduate; his grimacing self-portrait in a Photomaton coin-coperated photo booth, probably at a train station in the late 1920s; and his personal copy of the Directory of Directors, Writers etc. (1931), proudly kept because it includes his name in the company of Hollywood directors and writers. When Fitzgerald moved from Baltimore to North Carolina in 1936, he put the scrapbooks in storage, and though he later had them shipped to him in Hollywood, the author never again added to them.

The best resource for understanding the scrapbook contents, usually unidentified and undated, is Matthew J. Bruccoli, Scottie Fitzgerald Smith, and Joan P. Kerr, eds., The Romantic Egoists: A Pictorial Autobiography from the Scrapbooks and Albums of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974). This is because much of the contents was reproduced with commentary in The Romantic Egoists. Scottie Fitzgerald Lanahan noted (p. ix), “ninety percent of the illustrations in this book…was taken from the seven scrapbooks and five photograph albums….” Physical access to the original scrapbooks is restricted for compelling preservation reasons because all but The Baby’s Biography are largely made up of highly acidic newsprint pasted down on equally acidic album paper. The scrapbooks were digitized in 1999 as part of the Library’s Fitzgerald Papers preservation project, funded by the Save America’s Treasures, a grant initiative administered by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Over the past fifteen years, researchers have been able to consult the digitized scrapbooks in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections. The inclusion of the Fitzgerald scrapbooks in the PUDL will now enable everyone to see and appreciate them, along with the manuscripts of This Side of Paradise (1920) and The Great Gatsby (1925). These materials and more can be found in the Fitzgerald Collection.

The online version of the scrapbooks has been digitally watermarked and provides information about “Usage Rights,” including form of citation, reproduction, copyright, and other issues. For information about reproducing selective images in the scrapbooks, please contact Public Services, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections.

First page of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s
Scrapbook I, showing dust cover of
This Side of Paradise (1920)
and snapshots of Zelda.