In Memoriam: Dr. Jeanne Armstrong

Posted on: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 - 11:51am

In Memoriam: Dr. Jeanne Armstrong

Dr. Jeanne Armstrong passed away at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center on Friday, November 17, 2017 following a brief illness.

Dr. Armstrong arrived at Western Washington University in 1997 as a college-based Librarian for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS). Over the past twenty years, she played a number of significant roles at Western Libraries.

She was an early advocate for the value of open access publishing and the development of an institutional repository at Western. In 2009, under the direction of the then-Dean of Libraries, she helped investigate an institutional repository, which culminated in a document to the Provost. Western hired a consultant and created a Digital Assets Task Force, on which Dr. Armstrong sat. Later, her professional and committee service in support of an institutional repository continued, and she co-chaired the faculty search that hired the Western Libraries first Scholarly Communications Librarian.

Dr. Armstrong was a founding member of the Western Libraries Reading Series and the Libraries’ Undergraduate Student Research Award. She served on Western’s Internationalization Committee, and for two years she sat on the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Committee, where she helped bring consultants to Bellingham to advise on the creation of what would become the Ray Wolpow Institute for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity.  She was also a driving force behind bringing a noted historian and genocide scholar from UCLA to speak at Western early in 2017.

Dr. Armstrong had a master's degree in Library Science and a doctorate in Comparative Cultural Studies from University of Arizona. She was also an accomplished editor, researcher, and writer, and she described her teaching and scholarship as being “diverse and interdisciplinary, encompassing librarianship, women studies, cultural studies and Irish studies.”  Her book, Demythologizing the Romance of Conquest, connected her interest in post-colonial theory, gender, and comparative literature. Her English translation of Maisie Renault’s concentration camp memoir, Great Misery, is an eloquent testimony to her commitment to social justice, which was consistently at the center of her research.

Dr. Armstrong’s most recent research engaged complex aspects of genocide theory, Raphael Lemkin and the UN Genocide Convention, and specific cases of genocide, including comparative analysis of the conquest of the first peoples of the Americas and the Irish.  Her research encompassed the postcolonial psychology of American Indians and Irish and the transgenerational PTSD resulting from genocide and from the denigration and ongoing dehumanization of colonized populations perpetrated on certain peoples to justify the conquest.

Her previous employment includes Seattle Central Community College, Seattle Pacific University, Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona, and Chicago Public Library. At the Arizona State Museum, she worked as the archivist and special collections curator. Her doctorate and her work at the Chicago Public Library involved diversity programming and post-colonial studies in Irish and American ethnic literatures.

Western Libraries Administration will host an event in Dr. Armstrong’s memory on Western’s main campus in January -- details forthcoming.