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Dr. Jane Hanks

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Dr. Jane Hanks

1908 - 2014 NORTH BENNINGTON Dr. Jane Richardson Hanks, 105, of North Bennington, died Sunday, July 27, 2014, in Bennington. She died of old age. Jane led an inspiring and energetic life that took her around the world and into the hearts of many. Jane lived at 17 Hillside Street. She was born Aug. 2, 1908, in Berkeley, Calif. She was predeceased by her husband, Lucien Mason Hanks Jr., and her sons, Peter V. Hanks and Tobias R. Hanks. She is survived by her youngest son, Nicholas; her daughter-in-law, Stephanie Hanks; three grandchildren, Rachel, Jennifer and Charlotte, and four great-grandchildren, Michael and David German, and Tabitha Hanks-Allaire and Tobias Masson Hanks. Jane was a warm, generous and charitable person, a respected member of the community, a loving mother, and a noted anthropologist. She was loved and respected by everybody she met. She was a major contributor of the Park-McCollough House. She was an avid musician and learned to play the violin as a child. She played quartets with friends at home and with Bennington's Sage City Symphony. She mentored other young children learning to play music. Jane loved animals and cared for a string of cats and dogs - mostly strays and home-placements from others - including "Klaus," a daschund and "Mozart" the cat. She opened her house to many people. During one Christmas season, she and Lucien hosted two dozen Thai students who could not return to Thailand for the Christmas break. When renovations were underway at her house, she would often cook and invited the carpenters and plumbers to join her. She cooked and served meals to neighbors who had run out of food. She and Lucien helped found the Sage City syndicate, a North Bennington-based organization that purchased and renovated properties in the village with a view to preserving its character. Always interested in the latest research in Anthropology, she would sit in the front row of professional conferences, listening to presentations and asking questions. Jane was one of the earliest women anthropologists. She received a bachelor degree in French from the University of California and her PhD in Anthropology from Columbia University. She studied under Alfred Kroeber and co-authored with him a study linking the length of women's skirts with the national economy. She did field work among the Kiowa Indians in Oklahoma in 1935 and wrote her dissertation "Law and Status among the Kiowa" at Columbia University under Anthropologist Ruth Benedict, her academic mentor. She met her husband, Lucien, when psychologist Abraham Maslow tapped her to help in a study of the Blackfoot Indians in Alberta, Canada. When Jane told Maslow they would need a car and a driver for the project, Maslow thought of his friend, "June" Hanks who had a car and might be available for the project. He was invited to join the expedition. A romance bloomed. They were married in 1938. She and Lucien wrote up their findings in Tribe Under Trust: a study of the Blackfoot Reserve in Alberta. In 1952, they traveled with their three children to Thailand where they did research in a Cornell University project studying a rural village near Bangkok called Bang Chan. There, she did groundbreaking research on food, family, women, gender, and maternity. Her research informed future studies. Their co-authored book Of Rice and Man was a groundbreaking study of community in the region. In the 1960's, their work shifted to tribes in the highlands of northern Thailand and resulted in the book Tribes of the Northern Thailand Frontier. Jane taught anthropology at Bennington College, the University of Vermont, State University of New York at Albany, Williams College and lectured at other institutions. Much of her research material including field notes, papers, photographs and musical recordings have been donated to institutions including the University of Washington, the Glenbow Museum, Cornell University, the University of Arizona, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and others. MEMORIAL NOTICE: A memorial service will be held later in the year when the family can be together. In lieu of flowers, friends may make gifts in her honor to the Park McCollough House, the North Bennington Library, the Sage City Symphony, or the Iroquois Indian Museum.


Published in Bennington Banner on July 29, 2014
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