Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

John Melville Jennings (1916-2004)

Academic journal article The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

John Melville Jennings (1916-2004)

Article excerpt

The Virginia Historical Society lost a dear friend when its director emeritus, John Melville Jennings, died in Washington, D.C., at the age of eighty-eight on December 22, 2004. His death closes a chapter in our institution's story, and his name will always be associated with the achievements of the VHS in the mid-twentieth century. When Mr. Jennings joined the staff as its first professionally trained librarian and archivist in June 1948, neither he nor anyone else could have imagined the profound influence this young William and Mary graduate would have on the institution.

Before coming to the Society, he had worked as curator of rare books and manuscripts at William and Mary. After serving in the navy during World War II, he earned a master's degree from American University, and it was with that experience and training that he arrived at the VHS. With energy and ability, he used his archival skill to make our rich collections systematically accessible to researchers. Even more important, the tall, immaculately tailored James City County native possessed a vast knowledge of the intricate family relationships linking the people who made Virginia history. …

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