Study Corner - Jane Timeline

April 3, 1934

  • Valerie Jane Morris-Goodall is born in London, England.

Fall, 1939

  • Jane hides for hours in henhouse to see how a hen lays an egg, unaware her family is frantically searching for her.

Christmas 1942

  • Jane receives The Story of Dr. Dolittle as a gift. It entrances Jane, as does Tarzan of the Apes. She decides that someday she will travel to Africa to observe and write about animals.

Summer 1946

  • Jane starts a nature club, The Alligator Society, which includes her younger sister Judy and their friends Sally and Sue.

Summer 1952

  • Jane finishes school and passes her Higher Examinations. Her family cannot afford to send her to university, so Jane will learn secretarial skills.

 May 4, 1953

  • Jane begins Queen’s Secretarial College in South Kensington.

Spring 1954

  • Jane assists her aunt Olly with clerical work at Olly’s clinic for children and adults in need of physical therapy.
  • August, Jane begins clerical work at Oxford University. She’s allowed to bring her pet hamster, Hamlette, to work.

Summer 1955

  • Jane takes a job at Schofield Productions in London, choosing music for documentaries. She enjoys the city’s tremendous cultural offerings, going to concerts, taking philosophy classes and generally exploring.

May 1956

  • Jane’s friend Clo Mange invites Jane to her family’s farm in Kenya. Jane quits her London job and moves back home so she can waitress and save money for her boat fare.

April 2, 1957

  • The ship The Kenya Castle docks in Mombasa. Jane has arrived in Africa.

May 24, 1957

  • Jane meets anthropologist and paleontologist Louis S.B. Leakey

July 1957

  • Jane travels with Louis and Mary Leakey to Olduvai Gorge to dig for fossils. Around this time, Louis asks Jane if she is interested in studying a group of wild chimpanzees in Tanzania. Jane eagerly accepts.

July 14, 1960

  • Jane and her mother Vanne arrive on the shores of Gombe Stream Chimpanzee Reserve in western Tanzania.

October 1960

  • Jane observes meat-eating for the first time. Later she sees the chimpanzees hunt for meat. These observations disproved the widely held belief that chimpanzees were primarily vegetarians.

November, 1960

  • Jane observes David Greybeard and Goliath making tools to extract termites from their mounds, a discovery that would force science to reconsider its definition of homo sapiens: “Man the Toolmaker”

Aug 1963

  • Jane is first published in National Geographic -- "My Life Among Wild Chimpanzees."

March 28, 1964

  • Jane marries wildlife filmmaker and photographer Hugo van Lawick at the Chelsea Old Church.


  • National Geographic grants funds for aluminum buildings, the first permanent structures to exist at Gombe and the beginnings of the research center.

Dec. 1965

  • CBS airs “Miss Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees”


  • Jane earns her Ph.D. in Ethology from Cambridge University.

May 1966

  • Jane observes an entire meat-eating sequence when a chimpanzee named Hugo kills and eats a baboon.

March 4, 1967

  • Hugo Eric Louis van Lawick, nicknamed “Grub,” is born.


  • Fall, Jane begins an appointment as visiting professor of Psychiatry and Human Biology at Stanford University in California.


  • Jane marries Derek Bryceson, Director of National Parks in Tanzania.
  • May 19, Four Gombe staff members are kidnapped and held for ransom. All four are eventually released.


  • Jane founds the Jane Goodall Institute for Wildlife Research, Education and Conservation.


  • Jane loses her husband Derek to cancer.


  • Jane begins groundwork for the Chimpanzoo program.

Nov. 1986

  • At a scientific conference in Chicago organized around the release of Jane’s scholarly work The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behavior, Jane and fellow attendees are stunned after consecutive speakers make clear the extent of habitat destruction across Africa. Jane leaves the conference knowing she must leave Gombe behind and work to save the chimps.


  • Jane and 16 Tanzanian students found Roots & Shoots, a global environmental and humanitarian education program for youth


  • Jane founds TACARE, the Lake Tanganyika Catchment Reforestation and Education project. The program works with local communities to improve their lives while also strengthening conservation.

April 16, 2002

  • United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan appoints Jane to serve as a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

February 20, 2004

  • Jane is made a Dame of the British Empire

June 2007

  • Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reappoints Jane to serve as United Nations Messenger of Peace


JGI News and Highlights

Featured Video

Walk in the footsteps of Jane Goodall with Google Maps

Featured Video

Featured Video

Saving Chimps From Snares (Graphic Images)!

This is the story of Mugu Moja, a young juvenile chimpanzee.