Dr. Sue-Ellen Jacobs 1936-2017
Sue-Ellen Jacobs was born October 27, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois, the eldest of four children of William D. and Ruth M. Jacobs. She excelled in school and went on to train as a nurse. Her interest in the lives of people, particularly women, led her to switch to anthropology. Her undergraduate studies were at Adams State in Alamosa, Colorado, and she earned her PhD from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1970. She held university teaching positions in California and Illinois before joining the University of Washington as Professor of Women's Studies and an adjunct professor of anthropology and also of music.
From 1972 she worked on various applied anthropology projects with San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico and, with Esther Martinez and others, completed the multimedia applications for the San Juan Pueblo Tewa Language Project in 2000. With others, she edited "My Life in San Juan Pueblo, Stories of Esther Martinez" in 2004. She published numerous articles based on her work as an anthropologist on San Juan Pueblo and other communities.
Much of Sue-Ellen's research was of an applied nature, including social impacts of government development projects, urban and rural health issues, land and water rights issues, and preservation and restoration of indigenous languages. She was also concerned with gender issues, and co-edited the 1997 book "Two-spirit People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and Spirituality." She served as President of the Society for Applied Anthropology, receiving the society's Sol Tax Distinguished Service Award in 2007, and was also was active in the American Anthropological Association.
Sue-Ellen retired from the University of Washington in 2004 with the title of Professor Emerita of Women's Studies and moved to northern New Mexico, a place she loved. With the support of a Mellon Foundation Emeritus Fellowship, she continued work with the San Juan Pueblo, while teaching at the Northern Pueblos Institute at Northern New Mexico College. Sue-Ellen passed away on November 6, 2017, following a lengthy illness. She will be greatly missed by her brothers John and James Jacobs and her sister Louise Jacobs Gouge and their families, as well as her great friend, colleague and latterly caregiver, Tessie Naranjo, and many family and friends in San Juan, New Mexico, Seattle and elsewhere.
At her request, no funeral services will be held.