Jacobi was the fourth generation of her family to seize a camera to earn a livelihood. In a career that began in the decadent Berlin of the thirties and ended in a simple New Hampshire home, the images she produced — and most especially the portraits — border on the iconic. Throughout her long career, she was irresistibly drawn to artists and writers, musicians, poets and scientists. For over fifty years, she recorded figures who shaped our world and defined the course of the last century. Her portraits of intellectual celebrities like Martin Buber, Käthe Kollwitz, Albert Einstein, May Sarton, and Robert Frost, all done quickly, surely, and with a deceptive simplicity, are masterful in their delineation of character, and their probe for lineaments of intelligence.
Beyond her career in photography, she also served as an official delegate for the arts in Washington, as a mentor to young people, and as an environmental activist. Although there have been previous books about Jacobi, there has never been anything available that compresses her life, her thought, and her most singular images into one affordable volume. Here — drawn from interviews, the material at the Jacobi Archives at UNH, and her own work and words — is a capsule survey of a memorable woman and a career that spanned five decades.