Moreno, J. L. (Jacob Levy), 1889-1974

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From the description of Postcard of J. L. Moreno, 1974. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70984331

Moreno, a psychiatrist, is known as the developer of psychodrama, a form of group psychotherapy. Born in Rumania and raised in Vienna, he emigrated to the U.S. in 1925. He had known Franz Werfel in Vienna, where Moreno (at that time known as Jacob Levy) had been the editor of the Expressionist journal Der Daimon (later Der neue Daimon), to which Werfel had been a contributor. They apparently met again after many years in New York in 1940, shortly following Werfel's emigration to the U.S.

From the description of Correspondence to Franz Werfel, 1940. (University of Pennsylvania Library). WorldCat record id: 155863996

Moreno (University of Vienna, M.D. 1917) was a psychiatrist and directed a "theater of spontaniety" in Vienna. After moving to the U.S. in 1925, he conducted psychodramatic and sociometric studies in New York City. Moreno initiated publication of several journals on group psychotherapy, psychodrama, and sociometry; he also founded the Moreno Sanitarium, Moreno Institute, and Moreno Academy; and he organized the American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP) and the International Association of Group Psychotherapy. Other activities included coordination of several international congresses in the 1960's and 1970's.

From the description of Papers of Jacob Levy Moreno, 1906-1975 (bulk). (Harvard University). WorldCat record id: 281439176

The J.L. Moreno Collection in the Countway Library of Medicine spans most of Dr. Moreno's career, with the bulk of materials covering the last twenty-five years of his life. The papers, which are contained in a total of 2002 manuscript folders, consist largely of correspondence and manuscript materials (including typescripts and handwritten notes); but also to be found here are announcements and programs, registration forms and questionnaires, monographs and reprints, business and financial data, diaries and notebooks, records and documents, transcripts, mailing lists, printed matter, protocols, and patient records.* Added to all of these are more than 35 items and cartons with oversize and bulk materials--scrapbooks and newspaper clippings, tapes and films, personal effects, conference proceedings, journals and books, and archivists' files (the last includes bibliographical materials as well as a list of the books and journals from JLM's library that were donated with the collection).

* Materials related to patients are confidential and may have restrictions placed upon their use.

Jacob Levy Moreno, known for his seminal contributions to the fields of psychodrama, group psychotherapy, and sociometry, was born in Rumania and grew up in Austria and Germany. As a young man he developed a marked interest in philosophy and psychology and attended the University of Vienna, where he earned a medical degree in 1917. A practicing psychiatrist trained in the Vienna of Sigmund Freud, Moreno came to believe that “orthodox psychoanalysis only makes a patient feel more self-conscious and lonely.” Seeking new opportunities, he immigrated to the United States in 1925 and eventually acquired an estate in Beacon, New York, a community in Dutchess County. There he founded in 1936 the Beacon Hill Sanitarium and the Therapeutic Theatre for Psychodrama and established within a few years training institutes for workers interested in learning the techniques of psychodrama and sociometry. Both the sanitarium and the institutes that he directed later come to bear his name. In 1957, after the Moreno Institute had become accredited to provide postgraduate training, an Academy of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy was added to the enterprise.

Dr. Moreno was a prolific writer and editor. He directed the operation of Beacon House, Inc., the firm he established to publish journals and monographs devoted to the subjects of sociometry, group psychotherapy, and psychodrama, and served as its chief editor. In addition, he was an editor of such large-scale works as Progress in Psychotherapy, Vols. I-V (1956-1960), The Sociometry Reader (1961), and The International Handbook of Group Psychotherapy (1966). Among the many articles and monographs that he authored are his books, Who Shall Survive? (1934), Words of the Father (1941), The Theatre of Spontaneity (1947), and Psychodrama, Vols. I–III (1946-1969). He also left behind him a number of unpublished manuscripts, mostly autobiographical in nature.

JLM served as adjunct professor of sociology at New York University in the 1950s and ′60s and was active in such professional organizations as the American Psychiatric Association, the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry, the American and New York Medical Associations, and the American Sociological Association. He founded and held prominent positions in the American Sociometric Association, the American Society for Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP), and the International Association of Group Psychotherapy. Perhaps his greatest satisfaction came through the international congresses of group psychotherapy, psychodrama, and sociometry over which he presided during the last two decades of his life.

The nucleus of the Moreno Collection came to the Countway Library in 1978 as a gift from Dr. Moreno's widow, Zerka, and his son, Jonathan, and was afterwards supplemented by further materials. A few years later the ASGPP established a fund for processing the archive, and in 1984 the materials finally embarked on their slow but inexorable transition from chaotic, crusty boxes to a marked, ordered, and preserved system. Initially, the collection was processed under the direction of Christopher Kraus, a graduate student at Harvard with an interest in psychodrama. Because he finished his studies and left the Boston area before the project could be put in final form, an archivist already on the staff was assigned to tackle the problems that remained to be solved. These concerned preservation of materials, organizing and describing the collection for ease of use, and preparation of a selected name index accurately keyed to the final box and folder numbers.

The introduction prepared by the previous archivist and his assistant no longer describes the arrangement of materials; but their view of JLM as a larger-than-life figure, as well as their comments on his more provocative pronouncements and on some of the unique materials in the collection, is of interest and appears in the front matter to this inventory. Also here will be found a chronology giving highlights of Moreno's life and work and an outline of how the archive is arranged. Following the inventory itself is an index to most of the correspondents and authors of papers who interacted with Moreno and his areas of interest.

It should be noted that the record of the last quarter century of the life of Jacob Levy Moreno reveals an interwoven professional and personal venture shared by his wife and collaborator, Zerka Toeman Moreno. Since Mrs. Moreno frequently acted or wrote in behalf of her husband, no attempt has been made either to differentiate her files or to include her name in the index, other than in obvious instances or for personal materials. This policy has been extended to others who acted and wrote in behalf of Dr. Moreno and his enterprise (albeit on a lesser scale)--for example, Ann Manzoeillo or any of the other secretaries at Beacon--especially when dealing with routine administrative matters.

  • 1889: Iacov Moreno Levi born on May 18 to Nissim Moreno Levy and Pauline Wolf, Bucharest
  • 1894: moves to Vienna
  • 1908: organizes a “religion of the encounter,” Vienna
  • 1908 - 1912 : directs impromptu play with children, Stadt Park and The Augarten, Vienna
  • 1910 - 1912 : student of philosophy and mathematics, University of Vienna
  • 1911: begins Einladung zu einer Begegnung [Invitation to an Encounter], subtitle of a series of psychodrama protocols, speeches and reports, the first of which is Die Gottheit als Komödiant [The Godhead as Actor], Vienna
  • 1913 - 1914 : directs group therapy with prostitutes, Am Spittelberg District, Vienna
  • 1917: receives M. D. degree from the University of Vienna
  • 1917 - 1918 : Superintendent, Mitterndorf resettlement community, near Vienna
  • 1918 - 1920 : publishes Daimon, quarterly journal of existential literature (renamed Der Neue Daimon in 1919)
  • 1918 - 1925 : public health officer, Voslau, Austria; medical director, Kammgarn Spinnerei, Voslau; engaged in private practice of psychiatry, Voslau and Vienna
  • 1920: Das Testament des Vaters [The Words of the Father], authored anonymously, Berlin
  • 1921 - 1923 : directs Das Stregreiftheatre, public theatre of spontaneity, Maysedergasse, Vienna
  • 1923: Der Konigsroman [The King's Novel] authored anonymously, Potsdam, Berlin
  • 1924: Das Stegreiftheatre [The Theatre of Spontaneity] authored anonymously, Berlin
  • 1924: patentee of “radio film,” for electromagnetic recording of sound on discs for radio transmission and reception
  • 1925: completes Einladung zu einer Begegnung series with publication of Die Rede von den Richter [Speech before the Judge], Berlin
  • 1925: arrives on Oct 7 in America aboard the S.S. Mauretania
  • 1927: becomes licensed to practice medicine in the State of New York
  • 1928: conducts psychodramatic work with children, Plymouth Institute, Brooklyn, New York
  • 1928: introduces spontaneity test, Mount Sinai Hospital, Department of Pediatrics and Mental Hygiene Clinic, New York City
  • 1929: conducts psychodramatic work, Grosvenor Neighborhood House and Hunter College, New York City
  • 1929: founds Moreno Laboratories, New York City
  • 1929 - 1931 : director, Impromptu Theatre, Carnegie Hall, New York City
  • 1931: founds and edits Impromptu magazine
  • 1931: opens public performance of impromptu play and the living newspaper, Theatre Guild
  • 1931: conducts sociometric tests, Public School 181, Brooklyn
  • 1931 - 1932 : conducts sociometric studies, Sing Sing Prison, New York
  • 1932: Conference on Group Methods, American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, Bellevue Stratford Hotel, Philadelphia
  • 1932: “Application of the group method to classification,” paper by JLM and E. Stagg Whitin (reprinted as The First Book on Group Psychotherapy, Beacon, New York, 1957)
  • 1932: directs psychodrama in industry, Macy's Department Store, New York City
  • 1932 - 1938 : directs long-term sociometric community research, New York State Training School for Girls, Department of Social Welfare, Hudson
  • 1933: displays sociometric charts at annual meeting of the Medical Society of New York, Waldorf Astoria Hotel
  • 1934: becomes naturalized citizen of United States; legal name change to Jacob Levy Moreno [in use since 1923]
  • 1934: Who Shall Survive? A New Approach to the Problem of Human Interrelations, published in Washington, D.C.
  • 1934: advisor to Subsistence Homestead Division, United States Department of Interior
  • 1935: founds Sociometric Review
  • 1935: founds Therapeutic Motion Pictures, Inc.
  • 1936: founder and physician-in-charge, Beacon Hill Sanitarium, Beacon, New York, licensed by New York Department of Mental Hygiene
  • 1936: opens Therapeutic Theatre for Psychodrama at Beacon
  • 1937: founds and publishes Sociometry, A Journal of Interpersonal Relations
  • 1937 - 1938 : visiting professor, New School of Social Research, course titled “Sociometry”
  • 1938: opens Psychodramatic Training Institute, Beacon, New York
  • 1938: marries Florence Bridge on April 30
  • 1939: birth of daughter, Regina, on March 26
  • 1939: visiting professor, Teachers College Columbia University, course titled “Introduction to Psychodrama”
  • 1941: The Words of the Father, translation of Das Testament des Vaters, published by Beacon Publishing House, Inc., New York
  • 1941: inaugurates therapeutic theatre of psychodrama at St. Elizabeth Hospital, Washington, D.C.
  • 1942: founds and directs Sociometric Institute and New York Theatre of Psychodrama, a division of the Psychodramatic Institute, both in New York City
  • 1942: founder and president, The Society of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy, renamed American Society of Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama (ASGPP)
  • 1943 - 1970 : Sociometry Monographs and Psychodrama Monographs published by Beacon House, Inc., New York
  • 1945: American Sociometric Association incorporated
  • 1946: fellow, American Psychiatric Association
  • 1946: Psychodrama, Volume I, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1947: founder, editor, publisher of Journal of Group and Inter-group Therapy, official organ of ASGPP (name changed to Group Psychotherapy: Journal of Sociopsychopathology and Sociatry in 1950; Group Psychotherapy and Psychodrama in 1970; and Journal of Group Psychotherapy, Psychodrama and Sociometry in 1976)
  • 1947: The Theater of Spontaneity, translation of Das Stegreiftheater, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1947 - 1948 : special lecturer, Harvard University
  • 1949: dedicates Theatre of Psychodrama at Psychological Clinic, Harvard University
  • 1949: Sociometric and Psychodramatic Institutes receive provisional charter for post-graduate training credit from Board of Regents of State of New York
  • 1949: psychodrama opens on Broadway, Mansfield Theatre, New York City
  • 1949: marries Celine Zerka Toeman on December 8
  • 1951: Psychodramatic and Sociometric Institutes, Beacon and New York City, renamed Moreno Institute, Beacon Hill Sanitarium renamed Moreno Sanitarium
  • 1951: organizes International Committee of Group Psychotherapy
  • 1951 - 1966 : adjunct professor of sociology, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, New York University
  • 1952: birth of son, Jonathan David, on June 11
  • 1953: Who Shall Survive? Foundations of Sociometry, Group Psychotherapy and Sociodrama, enlarged edition, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1953: consultant for televised psychodrama, WTOP, Washington D.C.
  • 1954: First International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, Toronto
  • 1955: Preludes to My Autobiography, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1955: directs televised psychodrama, Paris
  • 1956: transfers Sociometry to American Sociological Society [renamed Social Psychology in 1976]
  • 1956: founder and editor of International Journal of Sociometry and Sociatry [renamed Handbook of International Sociometry in 1971]
  • 1956 - 1960 : co-edits annual Progress in Psychotherapy, published by Grune & Stratton in New York
  • 1957: Second International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, Zurich
  • 1957: founder, International Council of Group Psychotherapy, born out of International Committee of Group Psychotherapy
  • 1957: founder, Academy of Psychodrama and Group Psychotherapy, for post-graduate training under auspices of Moreno Institute
  • 1959: lectures in U.S.S.R. at Academy of Medical Science, Moscow, and at Bechterev and Pavlov Institutes, Leningrad
  • 1959: Psychodrama, Volume II: Foundations of Psychotherapy, in collaboration with Zerka T. Moreno, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1960: edits, with others, The Sociometry Reader, published by The Free Press of Glencoe, Illinois
  • 1961: founder, World Academy of Psychodrama and Group Psycho-therapy, to integrate and accreditate institutes abroad, and to coordinate international congresses
  • 1963: Third International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, Milan
  • 1963: Stars in film, “Psychodrama of a Marriage,” made by the Centre d'Etudes de Radio et Television
  • 1964: serves on faculty of Yeshiva University, New York
  • 1964: First International Congress of Psychodrama, Paris
  • 1965: founder, Moreno Academy, New York
  • 1966: edits, with others, The International Handbook of Group Psychotherapy, published by Philosophical Library, New York (proceedings of the Third International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, 1963)
  • 1966: Second International Congress of Psychodrama, Barcelona
  • 1967: receives citation for fifty years in practice of medicine from Medical Society of the State of New York
  • 1968: Fourth International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, Vienna; Third International Congress of Psychodrama and Sociodrama, (Prague) Baden; First International Congress of Sociometry, (Prague) Baden
  • 1968: receives honorary degree from University of Barcelona
  • 1969: Psychodrama, Volume III: Action Therapy and Principles of Practice, in collaboration with Zerka T. Moreno, published by Beacon House, Inc.
  • 1969: Fourth International Congress of Psychodrama and Sociodrama, Buenos Aires receives
  • 1969: Golden Doctor Diploma from University of Vienna; commemorative plaque affixed to former home in Voslau, Austria
  • 1970: Fifth International Congress of Psychodrama, Sao Paulo
  • 1971: Sixth International Congress of Psychodrama, Amsterdam
  • 1972: Seventh International Congress of Psychodrama, Tokyo
  • 1973: founder, International Association of Group Psychotherapy
  • 1973: Fifth International Congress of Group Psychotherapy, Zurich
  • 1974: dies on May 14, several weeks after a stroke, at Beacon, New York

From the guide to the Jacob L. Moreno papers, 1906, 1911-1977 (inclusive)., (Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine.Center for the History of Medicine.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Moreno, J. L. (Jacob Levy), 1892-1974. Letter, 1945, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Rudolf Dreikurs Papers, 1911-1973, (bulk 1937-1972) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Moreno, J. L. (Jacob Levy), 1889-1974. Papers of Jacob Levy Moreno, 1906-1975 (bulk). Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library
referencedIn Moreno, Zerka T. (Zerka Toeman). Correspondence with Margaret Naumburg, 1962. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Moreno Institute. Letter, 1952, to Lewis Mumford. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Syz, Hans C. Hans Caspar Syz papers, 1911-1991 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Jacob L. Moreno papers, 1906, 1911-1977 (inclusive). Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine
creatorOf Moreno, J. L. (Jacob Levy), 1889-1974. Postcard of J. L. Moreno, 1974. Library of Congress
referencedIn Moreno, Zerka T. (Zerka Toeman). Papers, 1947-2000. Harvard University, Medical School, Countway Library
referencedIn Abraham Aaron Roback papers, 1909-1965. Houghton Library
creatorOf Moreno, J. L. (Jacob Levy), 1889-1974. Correspondence to Franz Werfel, 1940. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Hans Caspar Syz papers, 1911-1991 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Beacon Hill Sanitorium. corporateBody
associatedWith Beacon Publishing House. corporateBody
associatedWith Dreikurs, Rudolf, 1897-1972. person
correspondedWith Minguillon, Mark person
associatedWith Moreno Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Moreno Institute. corporateBody
associatedWith Moreno, Zerka T. (Zerka Toeman) person
associatedWith Murphy, Gardner, 1895-1979. person
correspondedWith Roback, A. A. (Abraham Aaron), 1890-1965 person
associatedWith Syz, Hans C. person
associatedWith Syz, Hans C. person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1889-05-18

Death 1974-05-14







Ark ID: w6gt6640

SNAC ID: 55931449