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Walter P. Zenner Papers

Identifier: ASF AR-4

Scope and Content Note

The archival collection of Walter P. Zenner relates primarily to Zenner’s interest in the life and customs of Sephardic Jewry from the Middle East. His material examines the Sephardim living both in the Middle East, as well as those who resettled in Europe or in the United States. This collection is composed of articles and papers on Sephardic Jewry written both by Zenner himself as well as a number of other experts. It includes Zenner’s observations, hand-written notes, and transcripts of interviews with Sephardic Jews collected on several occasions, including during research in Israel between 1961-1963; in Manchester, Britain during Walter Zenner’s visit in 1987; and in Chicago, Ill. in 1988. Furthermore, Walter Zenner added to these already mentioned a number of studies of the Sephardic populations in New York in 1988 and in Israel after Zenner visited the community that he studied thirty years earlier in 1993. The collection contains a number of newspaper clippings and correspondence as well.

The collection is mostly in English, although some materials are in Hebrew, and some are in French.


  • 1958-2001
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1988


Language of Materials

This collection is in English and Hebrew.

Access restrictions

Open to researchers.

Use Restrictions

There may be some restrictions on the use of the collection. For more information, contact:

American Sephardi Federation, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street New York, NY 10011

Biographical Note

Walter P. Zenner was born on 18 October, 1933 in Nuremberg, Germany. He graduated in 1955 with B.A. in Anthropology from Northwestern University. In 1958 he received an M.A. in Anthropology from Columbia University, and in 1960, he earned an M.H.L in Judaica from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In 1965 Walter P. Zenner received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Columbia University. In 1965 he was awarded a Doctor of Hebrew Letters honoris causa from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

Walter P. Zenner has taught Anthropology since 1966 at the State University of New York at Albany. He publishes extensively, is the author of two books, and has edited or co-edited eight others. Professor Zenner has published many contributions and chapters in various publications. His articles have appeared in many academic journals, including: Jewish Journal of Sociology, Anthropological Quarterly, American Anthropologist, Archives de Sociologie des Religiones, and Journal of American Folklore.

Walter Zenner’s academic work deals with a number of aspects of Jewish life. Some of his scholarly interests gravitate toward the customs and habits of Sephardic Jews, particularly those who had or have their roots in Syria. He studied the life, conditions, and traditions of the Syrian Jews not only in Israel during research for his dissertation in 1961-1962, but also later when he returned to this subject in the late 1980s and studied the Sephardic community in Manchester, Britain and Chicago, Illinois, as well as in New York.

Walter P. Zenner passed away in his home in Albany on March 18, 2003.


3.6 Linear Feet (3 manuscript boxes, 1 legal-sized manuscript box and two cubic boxes)


The papers of Walter P. Zenner contain various materials reflecting the customs and habits of Sephardic Jews, particularly those with their roots in Syria. The collection contains transcripts of interviews from anthropological research carried out in Israel, USA, and Britain. It also holds a number of off-prints, photocopies, and newspaper clippings.


The collection is arranged in four thematically distinctive series. Series II is further organized into five subseries.

  1. Series I: Writings of Walter P. Zenner, 1958-2002
  2. Series II: Anthropological projects
  3. Subseries 1: Syrian Jews outside of the USA, 1958-1959
  4. Subseries 2: Israel, 1961-1963
  5. Subseries 3: Syrian Jews in Manchester, Britain, 1987
  6. Subseries 4: Syrian Jews in Chicago, 1988
  7. Subseries 5: Syrian Jews in New York City and NY and NJ State, 1955-1988
  8. Series III: Notes and Background Materials on the Sephardic Jews from Syria, 1958-2000
  9. Series IV: Various Material on Sephardic Jews, 1929-2000

Related Material

Walter P. Zenner papers are also to be found in National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives, Smithsonian Institution Museum Support Center, 4210 Silver Hill Road, Suitland, MD 20746

Separated Material

No materials associated by provenance to the described materials have been physically separated or removed from the collection.

Guide to the Papers of Walter P. Zenner (1933-2003), 1958-2002 (bulk 1960-1988) ASF AR-4
Processed by Stanislav Pejša
© 2002
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from zennerpapers02-02.xml

Revision Statements

  • September 2004.: Converted to ead 2002 and revised by Dianne Ritchey Oummia. Removed deprecated elements and attributes, updated repository codes, added language codes, changed doctype declaration, etc.
  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.

Repository Details

Part of the American Sephardi Federation Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States