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I'm Jane Adams, and I have worn many hats during my lifetime: farm girl, social activist, anthropologist and historian, mother, wife, gardener, naturalist, and, currently, community activist and (with my husband) operator of a vacation rental unit, the Carbondale Pool House. I created this site to hold academic work I have done over the past several decades, much of it with my husband, photographer D. Gorton. 

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My Story

I grew up on a farm in Southern Illinois, daughter of Chicago-area natives who had met in the Socialist Party in the 1930s. My father had dreamed of farming, but after WWII farming a 130 acre worn out hill farm couldn't support a family, so he kept his job managing the local Unemployment Compensation office. Our farm became a demonstration farm for the Extension Service, showing local farmers how reclaim their eroded land. We had beautiful woods and fields to play in. 


World War II and the Holocaust cast a long shadow over my life. My mother's parents came to the U.S. from Lublin, Poland, after her father's store was three times destroyed in pogroms. She presumed that, aside from her sisters and a distant cousin whose parents also emigrated to Chicago, all her relatives had been killed in the death camps -- probably Belzec, the first extermination camp which was built in Lublin District.


On the other side my father was old stock Yankee, with a founder of Providence, Rhode Island, and the founder of what became Florence, Mass. in his ancestry. The latter, I learned a few years back, had established the abolitionist colony  where Sojourner Truth had lived. Veterans of the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, that tradition lived in his deep commitment to democracy, justice, and education.

While in high school I helped desegregate Carbondale, an action initiated by an interracial group my parents were part of. I joined the Student Peace Union, a "ban the bomb" organization, in 1961, the summer I graduated from high school and set off to Antioch College. And in 1964 my brother (who had gone to jail in Cairo when SNCC's John Lewis organized protests about the segregated swimming pool) and I participated in Mississippi Freedom Summer. I stayed in Mississippi until 1965 when, the Vietnam War heating up, I went north to the SDS office in Chicago. I became a "campus traveler,"  organizing chapters and conferences in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri -- driving a sporty TR-3 a young faculty couple at Ames, Iowa, loaned me with a "Make Love Not War" bumper sticker and a box of literature strapped on the rear.

Eventually I returned to school and landed a professorship at Southern Illinois University Carbondale -- back home. While writing my dissertation I worked for the Illinois South Project, a collective that had been the lead organization to create the landmark Surface Mining and Reclamation Act. By 1986 they were bird-dogging implementation and enforcement of the act, and turning their attention to the farm crisis -- the rural cognate of the collapse of the Rust Belt.

Social Anthropology is a discipline that has, as its central focus, understanding diverse cultures. I taught a wide range of courses, including one I developed using a self-published textbook, America's Diverse Cultures, that sought to provide undergraduate students tools with which to understand the culturally diverse world they live in. Other courses focused on social and millenarian movements and the formation of social solidarities, law and governance, and economic processes. 

While teaching I retained my commitment to social activism, serving on the boards of several interest groups and becoming a Fellow in the Society for Applied Anthropology. In 1997. when my (future) husband, D. Gorton -- a veteran of SNCC and SDS cum photojournalist -- and I reconnected and we bought a house in Carbondale's historic but red-lined "student neighborhood," I became involved in the neighborhood association and served on the City's comprehensive plan advisory committee.

I retired in 2010, and in 2011 ran for -- and won -- a seat on the City Council. It was a tumultuous four years, as I fought to rein in the slum lords and revitalize our Downtown and older neighborhoods. I wrote a blog covering topics on each Council meeting. After running for mayor -- and losing -- I organized a group to build a dog park -- something Carbondale had long needed. Our group became a remarkable team, and in 2022, after a 2-year COVID delay, we opened a 2 1/2 acre dog park. Meanwhile, I and another team member ran for -- and won -- seats on the Park District Board of Commissioners.

Over the years as elderly neighbors died or moved  D. and I bought and renovated houses on our block, keeping them out of the hands of the slumlords. We have sold several to homeowners (our original plan) and rent the rest. In 2017, with eclipse mania growing, we converted our pool house from our offices into a vacation rental. We have greatly enjoyed sharing our gardens and pool with guests in what has turned out to be a very successful venture. 


In 2000, as the Web began to mature, D. and I began to work in digital media, publishing our research and some of his free lance photography on the web. I learned Adobe GoLive, but as it became obsolete our websites' formatting suffered. Those sites have been republished here. I have added my scholarly publications to the work in Mississippi and rural "downstate" Illinois  with my husband, D. Gorton published here. 


Jane Adams, Carbondale, IL

jadams.cdale at

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