In Search of Information: Jim Jager and Third World Studio

In the summer of 2020, Gerber/Hart Library and Archives received a donation of photos, negatives and contact sheets depicting Black men who posed for Third World Studio, which was owned and operated by Chicagoan Jim Jager from 1976 until his murder in 1981.

Most of the images are in excellent condition and organized by the names of the models, many of whom Jager met in the city. Third World Studio sold sets of photos by mail order and published several monographs (one-time publications), including Black Sugar, Black Knights and Horns of Plenty.

The model Marvin, as photographed by Jim Jager.

As early as 1958, Jim recorded notes about the men he photographed in an inventory chart, including where they met (“Greyhound,” ”Bughouse,” “Star + Garter”), their circumstances (“shoeshine boy,” “exterminator,” “boxer from S.C. penitentiary”) and personal characteristics (“making muscles,” “endless talker,” “kleptomaniac from North Clark”). Models were paid for their work, with many returning for additional sessions.

Coolie, whose photo and model release are above, is just one of hundreds of models included in the collection.

We’re looking forward to digging deeper and to sharing the story of the models, Jim, and Third World Studio, but we need help to learn more. We ask that anyone with information about the models, Jim Jager, the studio, or anything else connected to this story to contact Gerber/Hart. We would greatly value having the model’s stories and memories to add to this collection, as well as any additional details about Jim Jager himself or the mid-70’s to early 80’s photography scene.

Were you a Third World Studio subscriber or model? 

Did you know Jim Jager or someone who modeled for Third World Studio? 

Please reach out and help us learn more about the story behind this collection! Contact us at