Jack D. Ellis is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He was born in Sulphur, Oklahoma in 1941 and at the end of 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.
Ellis taught for twenty-five years at the University of Delaware and was chair of the Department of History during his final years there. He then joined the faculty of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, where he had accepted the position of dean of the College of Liberal Arts. As Professor of History at UAH, he helped to organize in collaboration with Alabama A&M University a distinguished lecture series in 2001 on the civil rights movement in Alabama, which featured first-hand accounts from the movement's aging activists.
Between 1997 and 2004, Ellis completed an oral history project in collaboration with the Medical Archives of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, recording and transcribing over fifty interviews with black physicians in Alabama who had practiced during the days of segregation. These interviews now reside at UAB.
Ellis is the author of several books on French 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, 2021).