June 7, 1917–August 26, 1998
BY THEODORE HYMOWITZ
HARLAN WAS BEST KNOWN for his contributions to knowledge of the evolution of crop plants, his plant explorations and archeological excavations, and for his clear elucidation of the interdependence of plants and civilization. Jack Harlan was a botanist, an agronomist, an anthropologist, a historian, and a scholar. He spent most of his academic career as a faculty member in departments of agronomy. However, he never took a formal course in agronomy.
Jack Rodney Harlan was born on June 7, 1917, in Washington, D.C. He was the younger of two sons of Harry Vaughn and Augusta Griffing Harlan. He earned a B.S. degree (with distinction) from George Washington University, Washington, D.C., in 1938 and his Ph.D. in genetics from the University of California in 1942. He was the first graduate student to complete a Ph.D. under the guidance of G.Ledyard Stebbins. On August 4, 1939, he and Jean Yocum were married in Berkeley, California. They had four children: Sue, Harry, Sherry, and Richard. After 43 years of marriage, Mrs. Harlan passed away on October 11, 1982, in Urbana, Illinois.
Jack Harlan was greatly influenced in his choice of career by the professional activities of his father. From 1910 to 1944 Harry V.Harlan was the leader of barley investigations