Ruth Harriet Miller Jacobs Ph.D.

November 15, 1924September 5, 2013

JACOBS, Ruth Harriet Jacobs (Miller), Ph.D. – of Wellesley, died on September 5, 2013, age 88.

Ruth Harriet Jacobs, Ph.D. was a gerontologist, sociologist, educator, poet, and author of nine books. She had many years of teaching experience and provided continuing education courses for professionals. In addition, she held workshops throughout the US and abroad, and for 20 years was a researcher at the Wellesley Centers for Women at Wellesley College.

Dr. Jacobs’ books include: Be An Outrageous Older Woman, Women Who Touched My Life: A Memoir, We Speak for Peace: An Anthology (as editor), Older Women Surviving and Thriving: A Manual For Group Leaders, Button, Button, Who Has the Button?: A Drama About Women’s Lives Today, Out of Their Mouths, Life After Youth: Female, Forty What Next?, ABC’s for Seniors: Successful Aging Wisdom from an Outrageous Gerontologist , and Re-engagement in Later Life: Re-employment and Remarriage.

While raising her family, Dr. Jacobs received her B.S. at age 40 from Boston University and her Ph.D. at age 45 from Brandeis University. She was a sociology professor for 13 years at Boston University before going to Clark University in 1982 as chair of the sociology department. After retiring from Clark University, Dr. Jacobs taught regularly at Regis College, Springfield College School of Human Services, and in the Life Long Learning Program at Brandeis University.

She was the recipient of grants and awards to pursue aging studies from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, the United States Department of Education, the Stone Center, the Southport Institute for Policy Analysis and many other institutions. In 1993 she received the Pioneer Award of the New England Sociology Association and has also received the Distinguished Gerontologist Award from the University of Massachusetts. Over the years she served as a consultant to several government and voluntary agencies, including the AARP’s National Task Force on Aging and Mental Health.

Dr. Jacobs contributed chapters to many scholarly books, poems to many poetry anthologies and magazines, and numerous articles to academic journals. She wrote a popular monthly column for the award winning Senior Times newspaper and served on the editorial board of the Journal of Women & Aging. She had residencies at eight major art colonies. An online showcase of her work is intended by her children to be created during this month of September at Please check this internet address from time to time for initial content and for additions of text, audio, and video.

She has been a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the College of William and Mary (1990) and a Research Scholar at the Five Colleges Women’s Studies Research Center at Mount Holyoke College (1992). In 1998 she received the Athena Award for Excellence in Mentoring for her book Women Who Touched My Life. An audio recording of Dr. Jacobs discussing “Older Women as Mentors” is available at She was a tenured full professor at both Boston University and Clark University. She keynoted major conferences and did extensive group work with older women.

She was a reporter and feature writer for the Boston Herald-Traveler newspaper for eight years in the 1940’s. Among those she interviewed during their visits to Boston were Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt. For a video oral history about her time as a journalist, see

Ruth is survived by her daughter Edith and her son Eli.

Shiva will be at the home of Edith Jacobs on Monday, September 9 from 3:00 pm to 8:00 pm. A memorial gathering will be held at the Wellesley Friends Meeting House, 26 Benvenue St., Wellesley, MA, on Saturday, October 5th at 2 PM. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to The Ruth Harriet Jacobs Scholarship fund at Regis College, which was established in her name to benefit LLARC (Lifelong Learning at Regis College) students who could not afford to attend lifelong learning courses; LLARC, Regis College, 235 Wellesley Street, Box 3, Weston, MA 02493.


  • Memorial Service

Ruth Harriet Miller Jacobs Ph.D.

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