Jane Booth’s passion for photography and commitment to archiving and preserving the photographic history of San Diego are what made her this year’s Women’s Hall of Fame Historian inductee. While her husband Larry made a name for himself in preserving historic photographs, Jane excelled in making those historic photographs accessible to the public. As photographic archivist for the San Diego Historical Society, Jane became known as the “mother hen” of the photographic archives containing 2.5 million images.
Jane met her husband at Texas A&M and they were married in 1941. In 1944, Larry joined the Navy and the couple moved to San Diego. Larry began his career in preserving historic photographs and eventually the collection was transferred to the Historical Society when Larry became their photographic curator. Jane joined the Historical Society first as a volunteer and later as the photographic archivist.
Jane organized thousands of images into collections utilizing her meticulous organizational skills. Through her work as the society’s photographic archivist, she made a vast array of photographs easily accessible to the public while highlighting the history of women in San Diego. Jane was shocked at how long the women’s suffrage movement struggled to make headway and became determined to showcase women who were ahead of their time; she created a women’s history collection, organizing thousands of photographs by decade.
While Jane was known for her dedicated work as an archivist, she also had a well-developed creative side as an accomplished artist in several mediums. At age 50 she obtained her Masters in Applied Arts from SDSU and became nationally known for her stunning silver and glass jewelry. She invented a way to use Pyrex glass to make beads and other parts. She had a talent for working in wood and at weaving on her loom on which she created whimsical dolls among other things.
After Jane retired in 1994, she continued to volunteer at the Historical Society. While Jane would not have called herself a feminist, her pioneering drive, her pragmatic outlook, and her work to preserve women’s history would have proved otherwise. Her love and dedication in preserving not just San Diego’s history but also women’s history has made her a true Guardian of Women’s History.