Jack D. Ellis was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma in 1941 and after World War II moved with his family to a farm near Avery, Texas. From there, he moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where he finished high school in 1960. He graduated from Baylor University in 1963 and received a doctorate in history from Tulane University in 1967.
He taught for twenty-five years at the University of Delaware and was chair of the Department of History during his final four years there, then joined the faculty of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he served four years as dean of the College of Liberal Arts and eight years as Professor of History.
Jack D. Ellis is the author of several books on French political and medical history and African American medical history in the South. They include The French Socialists and the Problem of the Peace, 1904-1914 (1967); The Early Life of Georges Clemenceau (1980); The Physician-Legislators of France, 1870-1914 (1990); Beside the Troubled Waters: A Black Physician Remembers Life, Medicine, and Civil Rights in An Alabama Town (2011); and Healing the Heart of Darkness: Black Doctors and the Health Care of African Americans in Alabama, 1870-1970 (MS).