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Jane Goodall: About

Jane Goodall


Who is Jane Goodall?

Jane Goodall is known for her years of living among chimpanzees in Tanzania to create one of the most trailblazing studies of primates in modern times. Jane Goodall set out to Tanzania in 1960 to study wild chimpanzees. She immersed herself in their lives, bypassing more rigid procedures to make discoveries about primate behavior that have continued to shape scientific discourse. A highly respected member of the world scientific community, she advocates for ecological preservation through the Jane Goodall Institute.

Jane Goodall was born on April 3, 1934, in London, England, to Mortimer Herbert Goodall, a businessperson and motor-racing enthusiast, and the former Margaret Myfanwe Joseph, who wrote novels under the name Vanne Morris Goodall. Along with her sister, Judy, Goodall was reared in London and Bournemouth, England.

Goodall's fascination with animal behavior began in early childhood. In her leisure time, she observed native birds and animals, making extensive notes and sketches, and read widely in the literature of zoology and ethology. From an early age, she dreamed of traveling to Africa to observe exotic animals in their natural habitats.

Goodall attended the Uplands private school, receiving her school certificate in 1950 and a higher certificate in 1952. She went on to find employment as a secretary at Oxford University, and in her spare time also worked at a London-based documentary film company to finance a long-anticipated trip to Africa.

At the invitation of a childhood friend, Goodall visited South Kinangop, Kenya, in the late 1950s. Through other friends, she soon met the famed anthropologist Louis Leakey, then curator of the Coryndon Museum in Nairobi. Leakey hired her as a secretary and invited her to participate in an anthropological dig at the now-famous Olduvai Gorge, a site rich in fossilized prehistoric remains of early ancestors of humans. Additionally, Goodall was sent to study the vervet monkey, which lives on an island in Lake Victoria.

Leakey believed that a long-term study of the behavior of higher primates would yield important evolutionary information. He had a particular interest in the chimpanzee, the second most intelligent primate. Few studies of chimpanzees had been successful; either the size of the safari frightened the chimps, producing unnatural behaviors, or the observers spent too little time in the field to gain comprehensive knowledge.

Leakey believed that Goodall had the proper temperament to endure long-term isolation in the wild. At his prompting, she agreed to attempt such a study. Many experts objected to Leakey's selection of Goodall because she had no formal scientific education and lacked even a general college degree.  Continue reading from Biography


From our Collection

Link  to Jane Goodall 40 Years at Gombe by The Jane Goodall Institute
Link to My friends, the wild chimpanzees by Baroness Jane van Lawick-Goodall
Link to The Jane Effect by Peterson in the catalog
Link to Jane's Journey (film) in the catalog
Link to Reason for Hope by Jane Goodall in the catalog
Link  to Seeds of Hope Wisdom and Wonder by Jane Goodall in the catalog
Link to Jane (film) in the catalog
Link  to Through a Window by Jane Goodall in the catalog
Link to Chimpanzee Children of Gombe by Jane Goodall in the catalog
Link to Visionary Women by Barnet in the catalog

Link to Revolutionary Biographies Resource Guide Series