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Lori Zabar Fish Decoy Research File

Identifier: A0069

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the research file that Lori Zabar compiled between 1975 and 1991 when she was actively developing her fish decoy collection. It includes Zabar’s personal correspondence, photographs of decoys, newspaper clippings, as well as catalogs, advertisements, and other publications from dealers, auctioneers, and organizations specializing in fish decoys and fishing collectibles. There are a few publications in this collection that were published slightly after 1991, which suggests that Zabar continued to preserve fish decoy research after she donated her collection to AFAM. Still, the bulk of the materials, particularly the correspondence, date to the mid-1980s,showcasing Zabar’s collecting and research activities during this period in particular.


  • 1978 - 1994
  • Majority of material found in mid-1980s

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research. Access to sensitive materials may be restricted at the discretion of AFAM.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study and scholarship.

Biographical / Historical

Lori Zabar (1954-2022) was an art, decorative arts, and architectural historian, historic preservationist, curator, and consultant. She was born on the Upper West Side in Manhattan, New York to Stanley and Judith Zabar. She was the eldest granddaughter of Louis and Lillian Zabar, the founders of Zabar's, a popular gourmet grocery store and deli on the Upper West Side.

Zabar graduated from Barnard College, Columbia School of Architecture's Historic Preservation Program, and New York University School of Law. After practicing law, she was the first Director of the NYC Historic Properties Fund at the New York Landmarks Conservancy from 1982-1989. Between 1986-1996, she was the President and co-owener of the Kurland-Zabar Gallery. She then worked as researcher in the American Wing and the Modern and Contemporary Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the 2000s and early 2010s, before working independently as a freelandce curator, consultant, and researcher. She served on the Boards of Landmark West, Symphony Space, and the Preservation League of New York State.

Zabar authored numerous articles and was the co-author of American Portrait Miniatures in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Late in her life, she wrote a book about her family, and its famous business, entitled Zabar's: A Family Story, with Recipes. It was published in 2022, a few months after she passed away.

In 1991, Zabar donated twenty-nine ice fishing decoys to the American Folk Art Museum (at the time called the Museum of American Folk Art). This archival collection, donated by Zabar in 2021, primarily comprises records that Zabar created, received, and kept while she was collecting these decoys.

Sources for this note:
"In Memoriam: Lori Zabar," American Friends of Attingham newsletter, Winter/Spring 2022.
Lori Zabar's LinkedIn Profile (accessed Septemner 20, 2022)
"Obituary: Lori Zabar" New York Times, February 5, 2022.


0.5 linear feet (1 standard legal-size document case)

Language of Materials



The materials in this collection are grouped into folders which are arranged by type, beginning with correspondence; writing by Zabar; advertisements and catalogs created by decoy dealers and vendors; and lastly publications and articles about fish decoys. Materials in the folders are arranged chronologically, except the Correspondence folder, which is arranged alphabetically by surname.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was donated by Lori Zabar in 2021.

A Guide to the Lori Zabar Fish Decoy Research File
April Griess and Regina Carra
September 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

47-29 32nd Place
Long Island City New York 11101 United States
(212) 595-9533