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John B. Jackson

John B.
Jackson

GEOGRAPHER OF THE WEST

Honored June, 1985

John Brickerhoff Jackson

Very quietly, from 1951 to 1970, John Brickerhoff (J. B.) Jackson published a magazine in Santa Fe that had worldwide impact.

Called Landscape, this magazine circulated around the world, transmitting the ideas and vision of its creator and publisher, a keen observer of both man-made and natural environments. As one who paid close attention to the roads, the irrigation ditches, the designs of towns and living environments, John began the publication with the notion of "arousing a kind of speculative interest in the human geography of the Southwest."

Born in Paris in 1910, John was educated at boarding schools in Europe and lived on the East Coast. He first visited New Mexico in 1926, when, as a young man, he spent time on his uncle's sheep ranch in Wagon Mound. "I wanted to be a rancher," he said, but instead he became a teacher of the history of the American landscape, at Harvard, the University of California at Berkeley, the University of Minnesota, and the University of New Mexico. His ideas and publications formed the core of a new curriculum of "landscape studies," which developed as the students he influenced went on to teach their students. John has made his home in New Mexico since 1945, living in Pojoaque and at Las Golondrinas before moving into his home in La Cienega."


Not that John didn't try his hand at ranching--he did, at Cimarron before World War II and at Clines Corners afterward. During the war, as a combat intelligence officer in France, he discovered his future profession. "I had to find the character of the countryside," he said, "and I became interested in geography. That led to reading, which led to writing." While in France, he had the opportunity to study books in the fine old libraries, where, he said, he "learned a way of seeing the land."

John's books, Landscapes, The Necessity for Ruins, and Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, became classics in the field. Then, in 1995, the writers' organization PEN honored him for his essay collection, A Sense of Place, A Sense of Time, with its Spielvogel-Diamondstein Award for the Art of the Essay."

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes