John Adams was born July 22, 1900, in Cincinnati, Ohio. While attending college at the University of Michigan, John met and married his wife, Jane. In 1925 the couple moved to Seattle where John had secured a position at the University of Washington.
While in Seattle John contracted tuberculosis, and so, in 1928 the couple moved to San Diego to help improve his health. He soon accepted a position at San Diego State Teachers College teaching English Composition. As part of his long career at San Diego State, Dr. Adams eventually became Chairman of Humanities, a post he held from 1956 to his retirement in 1968.
After his retirement in 1968, John Adams became part-time university archivist for San Diego State College. John and Jane donated generously to the university. Their donations consisted of books, postcards, ephemera, and manuscripts. One of the university's most noted academicians, Dr. Adams' name graces the Adams Humanities Building, which opened in 1977. Both John and his wife were charter members of the Friends of the Library, with John serving as chairman of the group.
Dr. Adams died on April 25, 1994.
August 7 and August 14, 1973 interviews with John Adams, Professor of English and Chairman of the Humanities, 1928-1968.
Download the PDF transcript: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
In these interviews totalling nearly 3 hours, Adams discusses his entire life history, from his childhood in Cincinnati to his celebrated career on the SDSU campus lasting an amazing 40 years. He describes his first arrival to San Diego, how he joined the faculty, and changes he witnessed in the school, particularly after 1947 when limitations that only teacher education courses could be taught were lifted. Adams also discusses the role of research versus teaching on campus over his 40 years as a faculty member, the history of the library and its effectiveness in serving the campus’s academic needs, and his retirement.
Interviewed by Lois Marriott on 8/7/73 and 8/14/73.
Image credit: Professor John Adams in 1960, University Archives Photograph Collection, Special Collections & University Archives.
View more photos of Dr. Adams below.
Special Collections & University Archives Contact
Location: SDSU Library & Information Access, Love Library Room 150