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Zanvyl Krieger papers

Identifier: MS-0482

Scope and Contents

The collection includes materials ranging in date from 1928-2000, including correspondence, approximately 50 photographs, albums, scrapbooks, graphic novels, pamphlets, citations and other awards. Numerous newspaper clippings are also included.


  • Creation: 1928-2000


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Contact Special Collections for more information.

This collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Biographical Note

Zanvyl Krieger was born in Baltimore, Maryland, on April 1, 1906. He graduated high school from Baltimore City College in 1924. A political science major, Krieger completed a bachelor's degree at Johns Hopkins University in 1928, finishing studies at Harvard Law School in 1931. He was admitted to the Maryland bar shortly thereafter. Krieger served as an Assistant Attorney General of Maryland and was counsel to the law firm of Weinberg and Sweeten, and then Weinberg and Green, for much of his legal career.

Krieger served in the U.S. Army Air Force during World War II, honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of major. One year later, Krieger married Isabelle Lowenthal. Their union produced two daughters: Betsy and Jean. Krieger was a member of Chizuk Amuno Congregation, a conservative synagogue.

Zanvyl Krieger was the youngest son of eight children born to Betty and Herman Krieger. Krieger's father's family, immigrants from Austria, operated a wholesale liquor business, as well as the Gunther Brewery and a rye whiskey distillery, in the Baltimore area.

In addition to a working as a lawyer, he ran successful operations as a real estate developer (at one time owning the Lord Baltimore Hotel) and was a professional sports owner, investor, and philanthropist.

In 1954, Krieger and fellow attorney Clarence Miles purchased the St. Louis Browns and brought them to Baltimore. Upon moving, the baseball team became known as the Orioles. Krieger later owned part of the Baltimore Colts professional football team and was an investor in the Baltimore Clippers ice hockey franchise.

In 1964, Krieger became the key investor in and founding director of the United States Surgical Corporation, based in Norwalk, CT. The company bought the rights to market a device developed in the Soviet Union to close incisions with surgical staples. U.S. Surgical also pioneered the field of laparoscopic surgery.

Krieger amassed a fortune through his assorted ventures. In the 1970s, Mr. and Mrs. Krieger used their holdings in U.S. Surgical to finance the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund. The Krieger Fund gave generously to The Johns Hopkins University providing $50 million in the form of a challenge grant to the School of Arts and Sciences, $7.5 million to establish the Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, and an endowment to the Krieger Chidrens Eye Center at the Wilmer Institute at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Furthermore, the fund endowed professorships at the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health, as well as ten Krieger-Eisenhower Distinguished Professorships in what would become the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Beyond Johns Hopkins University, Krieger, through the fund, was benefactor to the following Baltimore-area institutions: the Kennedy Krieger Institute, the Krieger Eye Institute at Sinai Hospital, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, the Jewish Historical Museum (now The Jewish Museum of Maryland), the Krieger Schechter Day School, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Community Foundation, and the American Visionary Art Museum. The fund also contributed to the Krieger Community Service for Pediatric Ophthalmology at the Schneider Children's Medical Center of Israel and funded a biennial ophthalmology conference.

It is estimated that Zanvyl Krieger, as an individual and later through the Krieger Fund, made charitable grants totaling more than $125 million in his lifetime.

Krieger served as a Johns Hopkins University Presidential Counsellor, received the President's Medal in 1981, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at the Univesity's 1992 commencement. Among many other citations and awards, he was awarded the Jerusalem Medal, named Man of the Year by the National Jewish Hospital and Research Center in 1967 and, in 1981, received the Albert Einstein Award from the American Technion Society.

Zanvyl Krieger died in Baltimore on September 15, 2000.


1.87 Cubic Feet (1 record center carton, 1 flat box (21 x 17 x 3 inches))

Language of Materials



Zanvyl Krieger (1906-2000) was an American businessman and philanthropist in Baltimore, Maryland. The collection includes materials ranging in date from 1928-2000, including correspondence, approximately 50 photographs, albums, scrapbooks, graphic novels, pamphlets, citations and other awards. Numerous newspaper clippings are also included.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given to the University by Betsy Krieger, the eldest of Zanvyl Krieger's two daughters, in January 2001. The accession number for the items is 00-01.19.

Processing Information

Finding aid prepared by Andy Young in November 2006.

Guide to the Zanvyl Krieger papers
Andy Young
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA