Friday, June 25, 2010

Dr. Jack A. Tobin: 1920-2010

We regret to note the passing of Dr. Jack A. Tobin, a highly respected Pacific anthropologist who devoted his life's work to the Marshall Islands. Tobin first went to the Marshalls in 1950 as a student of Dr. Len Mason, to work on the Pacific Science Board's Coral Atoll Project (CAP) -- an initiative meant to study the needs of atoll dwellers with limited resources and growing populations. Arno Atoll was chosen as the first CAP research site. 

Later in 1950, Tobin was hired as an anthropological field consultant by the Civil Administration Unit of Naval Operations. During the Trust Territory Administration era, he served as the sole district anthropologist for the Marshall Islands, a position he held through 1957. Between 1967 and 1975, he served as community development adviser to the Marshall Islands. (The photo above shows Dr. Tobin in 1957, preparing to land on Ejit. It is taken from the Pacific Collection's online Trust Territory Archives Photo Collection.)

A few years back Dr. Tobin began donating his research materials to the Pacific Collection. Shortly before his passing last week, he transferred the remainder of these materials, including some twelve linear feet of manuscripts and an estimated 1,500 photos and 35mm slides. The manuscript collection is as yet unprocessed; in the meantime, the Pacific Collection has begun work digitizing Dr. Tobin's photos and slides, with the aim of making them available online later this year.

Dr. Robert Kiste, professor emeritus of anthropology at UH and a longtime friend of Tobin's, has written an obituary notice for the Pacific Islands Report. It can be viewed online at: http://pidp.org/pireport/2010/June/06-25-12.htm

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