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Jack Douglas 






Jack DouglasJack Douglas (c1933 - 17 April 2012) was born in Waukegan, Illinois, USA. He was a librarian, university archivist and historian.

One of the last of a generation of eminent Santa Clara Valley historians, Jack Douglas was known to scholars for tirelessly helping preserve local landmarks as well as thousands of photographs that chronicled the region's evolution from orchards to information technology.

Douglas was the longtime head of San Jose State University's archives and also enjoyed impersonating Gen. Henry Morris Naglee at special events,

For years, Douglas wrote articles about local history for newsletters published by History San Jose and the Preservation Action Council. Dozens of those articles were published as the books "Historical Footnotes of Santa Clara Valley" (1993) and "Historical Highlights of Santa Clara Valley" (2005). He also published a book about the Naglee Park neighbourhood where he lived -- hence his fascination with the colourful Civil War-era general who gave the area his name -- and wrote for classical music journals.

"He's going to be really missed at History San Jose because he was an incredible resource for us," Ailda Bray, History San Jose executive director, said Thursday.

Bray said Douglas was among the last of an old guard of San Jose historians that included Leonard McKay, Pat Loomis, Clyde Arbuckle and Harry Farrell, all now dead.

History San Jose honored Douglas in 2007 at its annual Valley of Heart's Delight event for his contributions to local historical understanding.

Douglas came to San Jose State in 1959 after finishing a master's degree in library science at the University of Denver.

Douglas was married previously and has two children, Sandra Douglas and Bruce Douglas, from that marriage. Douglas and Kathryn Young married in 1982.

In addition to his early work as a librarian, Douglas helped usher in greater diversity to the campus faculty and student body through his work with the United Professors of California, said his longtime friend Thomas Layton, a former San Jose State anthropology professor.

Douglas longed to teach, and he finally got the chance with the formation in the late 1960s of the New College at SJSU, a program devoted to interdisciplinary studies.

Douglas taught a course on Bay Area architects and a "legendary" course called "Wine Lore," Layton said, in which students picked and stomped their own grapes and bottled and marketed their own wine.

In the early 1980s, Douglas also served as president of the San Jose Historic Landmarks Commission. In that role, said his wife, Douglas helped preserve such buildings as the Jose Theater on South Second Street (now home to San Jose Improv), and the historic Scheller House on the San Jose State campus.

"He cared a lot about San Jose and about the history of it, and I feel like he was one of the people who helped save some of the landmarks that are still standing," she said.

As university archivist, Douglas worked to acquire more than 8,000 photos of the Santa Clara Valley from 1913 to the 1950s from the heirs of commercial photographer John C. Gordon.

In retirement, he and Layton and others acquired another important photographic collection -- thousands of images shot by Arnold Del Carlo in the 1940s through 1960s -- for the Sourisseau Academy for State and Local History at San Jose State.

Both were achievements of which Douglas was rightfully proud, Layton said.

"Those two collections tell the story of the development of the valley in detail from 1913 through the postwar shift from the Valley of Heart's Delight to Silicon Valley, the hub of the information revolution," he said.


Douglas married as his second wife, Kathryn Young, in 1982.

Douglas was married previously and has two children, Sandra Douglas and Bruce Douglas, from that marriage.

He died Tuesday of lung disease on 17 April 2012. He was 79.



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Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024