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John Whipple Potter Jenks (1819-1894) died on the steps of Rhode Island Hall. Jenks was the director of the Museum of Natural History located in RI Hall. A graduate of Brown (1838), he returned in 1872 to take up a position as curator of the museum, bringing some of his own collections with him. He fitted up the museum of anthropology at his own expense and conducted a volunteer class in taxidermy in the basement of Rhode Island Hall. He stayed as curator until his death in 1894, which is described by Walter Lee Munroe:

“He was in his seventy-sixth year, apparently hale and hearty, his youthful enthusiasm not abated. He had lunched, perhaps too heavily, with some dear friends with one of whom he walked up College Hall, stopped for a minute in conversation on the steps of Rhode Island Hall, started to go upstairs to the Museum, sank down and expired without a moment’s sickness or suffering. One could not ask for a finer end.”

Professor Jenks can also be seen in one of the photographs from the University Archives, posing with his taxidermy class on the steps of RI Hall. [link]


The information on this page is indebted to the Encyclopedia Brunoniana by Martha Mitchell, copyright ©1993 by the Brown University Library.

Notable characters in the history of RI Hall

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Encyclopedia Brunoniana entry for RI Hall- a short history



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