Jackson, Eugene B. (1915-2003) | Purdue University Libraries, Archives and Special Collections
Eugene B. (Jack) Jackson was born at Frankfort, Indiana, June 18, 1915, to John H. Jackson and Goldie Belle (Michael) Jackson. He attended local schools in Lafayette, Indiana, including its Jefferson High School, where he played in the band. While studying at Purdue University, the band of which he was a member played at the Century of Progress's Hall of Science, Chicago, 1933-34. Jackson received a bachelor of science with distinction in engineering in 1937 from Purdue, and he earned the graduate degree of bachelor of science in library science with honors in 1938 from the University of Illinois at Urbana. In 1942, he earned an advanced master of arts in library science from Illinois. During his years in Urbana-Champaign he met his future wife, Ruth L. Whitlock, who was also preparing to become a librarian; they married at Indianapolis, August 6, 1941, when Jackson was holding his first professional appointment as documents librarian at the University of Alabama library in Tuscaloosa.
Although he had accepted an appointment to the technology department of the Detroit Public Library, he was on leave from spring 1943, when he reported to Camp Barkeley, Texas, near Abilene, for U.S. Army basic training. Thereafter, he was assigned to Texas Tech College in Lubbock and its program in advanced mechanical engineering. He served in Europe as a technical librarian with the 12th armored division in the third army and was responsible for collecting ordnance information for storage and retrieval by a truck-mounted, mobile technical manual center. After the cessation of hostilities, he served in Belgium with the Army of Occupation until 1946 when he returned to what would become Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, to oversee technical information operations. This position led him to increasing leadership appointments in government agencies, including chief of the units dealing with aeronautical intelligence and research information of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA, the forerunner of NASA), in which he served as liaison with NATO and other international bodies. In 1956, Jackson became head of the library of General Motors Research Laboratories, technical center, Warren, Michigan-a position he held until 1965, when he became director of information retrieval and library services at the IBM corporate headquarters in Armonk, New York, and was responsible for supervision of IBM libraries worldwide.
Throughout his career, Jackson was a leader in the Special Libraries Association in which he held several top offices and received several well-earned recognitions. He also taught for several summers as visiting lecturer at the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois. In 1971, he was recruited by the late Dean Stanley McElderry to the post of professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, now School of Information, The University of Texas at Austin, where he taught courses in science and technology resources, management, information retrieval, and special libraries until August 1985, after which he became professor emeritus.
Colleagues remember him as being business-like and thorough in his academic assignments, while alumni remember him as a knowledgeable and demanding instructor who had great affection for them as students and interest in their careers as alumni. Expecting the most from students, he also gave them a great deal of individual attention and entertained them frequently with his wife at their home. Jackson always had a project in which he was engaged, frequently with students and colleagues. Among his major publications were two edited publications, the January 1966 (v. 14, no.3) issue Library Trends, devoted to library service to industry, and Special Librarianship: A New Reader (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1980). The volume that he produced with his wife, Ruth, became the legacy of his career-Industrial Information Systems: A Manual for Higher Managements and Their Information Officer/Librarian Associates (Stroudsburg, Pa.: Dowden, Hutchinson & Ross, 1978). These latter volumes are each found in over 300 libraries, many of them around the world. He continued to conduct research and write for professional literature until several months before his death. His final published work was a sketch of a departed colleague, Audren Noiske Grosch, for the Dictionary of American Library Biography, 2nd Supplement (Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2003).
At the end of his life, several recognitions meant a great deal to him. In June 1994, he was awarded the Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Purdue University. Then, on its 150th anniversary in 2000, the Purdue library recognized him as one of four ex-student associates in the library's history who had become heads of major libraries themselves. In addition, he was one of nineteen notable "Pioneers in Information Science" who were recognized in October 1998, at a pre-conference of the American Society for Information Science's Special Interest Group on the History and Foundations of Information Science in Pittsburgh.
Eugene B. Jackson died on Wednesday, July 16, 2003.