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Herbert S. Zim Papers

Identifier: DG1086


The Herbert S. Zim Papers contain production materials and correspondence for thirteen science and nature books written or edited by Zim between 1952 and 1976. Three works represent the popular Golden Guides nature series founded and edited by Zim.


  • 1952-1992
  • Majority of material found within [1952-1975]

Conditions Governing Access

Noncirculating; Available for research

Conditions Governing Use

The collection is protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Reproductions can be made only if they are to be used for "private study, scholarship, or research." It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials.

Biographical / Historical

Herbert S. Zim, a naturalist and teacher, was born in 1909 in New York City, but spent most of his childhood in Southern California. He returned east at the age of fourteen and finished his education in New York, eventually holding B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University.

Zim spent thirty years teaching science and science education in New York and Illinois. He developed the first elementary science laboratories, served on national science committees, and participated in scientific and educational organizations. A man of many interests, Zim wrote or edited more than one hundred science books in his lifetime on topics as diverse as nature, machinery, and secret codes. Realizing a need for pocket-sized nature guides, Zim originated the highly successful Golden Guides series in 1945, and operated as its editor-in-chief for more than twenty years.

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of early retirement, Zim and his first wife, author/anthropologist Sonia (Sonnie) Bleeker, moved to Florida in the 1960s where he continued to work out of an office in his guesthouse. So successful were the Golden Guides, many selling in the millions, that Zim eventually recruited other experts to do most of the writing, while he worked as editor. The books are still widely used for their clear, knowledgeable presentation of complex information.

Zim slowed down with the onset of Alzheimer's disease in the 1990s. He died at home in Florida in 1994, at the age of 85, survived by two sons and his second wife, Grace Showe.


Major Authors and Illustrators, pp. 2546-2550

Children's Books and Their Creators, pp. 709-10


4.35 Cubic Feet (16 boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers were donated to the de Grummond Children's Literature Collection of the University of Southern Mississippi Libraries by Herbert S. Zim and his son, Roger S. Zim, in 1978.

Related Materials

Illustrations for three Zim books not represented in these papers are found in the Lee J. Ames Papers (DG0022). For illustrations by Zim's first wife, Sonia Bleeker, see the Sonia Bleeker Papers (DG0098).

Original illustrations for Crabs, Snails, and Your Brain and How It Works transferred to René Martin Papers (DG1237); original illustrations for Golden Hamsters and What's Inside of Me transferred to Herschel Wartik Papers (DG1236); original illustrations for The Universe transferred to Gustav Schrotter Papers (DG1238); original illustrations for Exotic Plants transferred to Richard E. Younger Papers (DG1240); original illustrations for Spiders and Their Kin transferred to Nicholas Strekalovsky Papers (DG1239)
Herbert S. Zim Papers
In Progress
Cheri Alder
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This finding aid is the product of a grant funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the de Grummond Childrens Literature Collection Repository

118 College Drive - 5148
Hattiesburg MS 39406-0001