Briefly, the first zeppelin was flown in 1900. German zeppelins bombarded England during World War I. The grand age of zeppelins was from 1928, when the Graf Zeppelin was built, to 1937, when the Hindenburg was destroyed while attempting to land at Lakehurst, New Jersey. The Graf Zeppelin flew paying passengers around the world in first class comfort in 1929; a time when aeroplanes were still being used by pioneers and passenger aeroplane travel was slow, uncomfortable, and for short trips only.
The folowing book is a good reference for historical zeppelins:
[more material to be added soon!]