Jean Frances DeMouthe (1949 to 2017)

On October 20, 2017, the SPNHC community lost a dear friend and supporter when Jean DeMouthe passed away after a long battle with cancer.  For the past 44 years Jean has worked at the California Academy of Science, most of that time as the Senior Collections Manager for Geology where she managed the mineral, rock and fossil collections.

Jean was born December 8, 1949 in New Jersey, but soon moved with her family to California.  She earned a bachelor’s degree in geology and a teacher’s certificate at Humboldt State University, at a time when she was the only women in the geology program. Her love of teaching geology and informal science education led to her Ed.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in Education. Jeannie had many talents that went far beyond geology which included her love of music, collecting glassware (marbles to be precise) and her adopted pets.

In addition to her role at the Academy, Jean was a licensed geologist for San Mateo County for more than 30 years, and she lectured at San Francisco State University in the Museum Studies Program. She regularly mentored SFSU students in collections management and conservation, many of whom are leaders today.

As senior collection manager at the Academy, Jean’s responsibilities went beyond the preservation and access to the geology and paleontology collections. She was also a leading force in promoting preventative conservation at the Academy and in the natural history collections community. She mentored multiple generations of collection professionals at the Academy and at many other institutions. Jean was one of the first people to hold the title of Collections Manager at a natural history museum and was well known for promoting the professionalization of collections management world-wide.

Jean was present at the founding of the Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections (SPNHC) in 1985 and was an active member speaking at their annual meeting like clockwork. When many people would have chosen to not travel, Jean continued attending meetings and this past June in Denver at SPNCH2017, she spoke about the preservation of geological materials in non-natural history to a packed audience.

Jean was president of The Society of Mineral Museum Professionals (SMMP) in 1997 to 1999 and secretary from 2003-2017. Between 2006 and 2009, Jean was the Chair of the SPNHC Publications Committee and Managing Editor of the Society’s journal Collection Forum.  Her contributions to the mineral and natural history museum communities will live on through her two published books (DeMouthe, 2006 and 2017). She recently completed a chapter on collections in seismically active areas in SPNHC’s new book on Preventative Conservation.

My friend Jean’s legacy will live on long past these publications, and those that she touched with her friendship will cherish the memories of a dear friend, a caring individual and a dedicated member of the natural history community.  Until we meet again Jean.

Tim White
Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History

DeMouthe, J.F. 2006. Natural Materials: Sources Properties, and Uses. Architectural Press. Burlington, MA.

DeMouthe, J.F. 2017. Care and Documentation of Mineral Collections. Mineralogical Society of America. Chantilly, VA.

Photo: Copyright California Academy of Science