July 7, 1909–August 13, 1997
BY C. MELVIN AIKENS
JESSE D. JENNINGS, prominent member of a highly productive generation of scholars that laid the empirical foundations of modern North American archaeology, died at his home in Siletz, Oregon, on August 13, 1997. Born in Oklahoma City on July 7, 1909, he was eighty-eight years old. Jane Chase Jennings, his partner since their 1935 marriage in Washington, D.C., was at his side. Jennings is survived by Jane, their two sons David and Herbert, three grandchildren, and many students who carry on his work and teachings in various ways.
In his personal memoir Accidental Archaeologist (1994) Jennings recounted his archaeological career, which began shortly after he arrived at the University of Chicago in 1929. After graduating from Montezuma College in Hot Springs, New Mexico, he caught a ride east with a faculty member who was returning to Chicago to further his own studies. Jennings found a job on a campus grounds crew and, after brief curricular explorations, found his way into the Department of Anthropology. There the faculty and prominent visitors who Jennings found memorable included Robert Redfield, H. R. Radcliffe-Brown, Fay-Cooper Cole, Edward Sapir, Paul Radin, Leslie Spier, Bronislaw Malinowski, and