Spreading the Word

Goodall began to publish her field research, but the scientific community was doubtful. After all, she had no science training.

In 1962, Goodall gave a presentation on primates for London’s Zoological Society. Many were impressed; others were not. One member said her work was “anecdote and ... speculation” that made no “real contribution to science.”

A chimpanzee digs for termites with a blade of grass.

Melissa reaches out her hand to Faben.  

Proof Positive

Goodall needed more evidence of her work. The National Geographic Society suggested she take photographs of her discoveries.

The Society hired Hugo van Lawick for the job. The 25‑year‑old Dutchman had some experience in natural history filmmaking. He reached Gombe in August 1962.

At first, neither focused on taking pictures of Goodall with the chimps. But National Geographic magazine editors wanted photos of her as well. It was unusual for a woman to be a scientist at this time. People were as curious about Goodall as they were about the chimps!

The photos van Lawick took captured proof of the chimps’ toolmaking and use. He also photographed nest building and how the chimps behaved socially. And he took many pictures of Goodall doing her work. His photos appeared with Goodall’s words in National Geographic magazine’s August 1963 story, “My Life Among Wild Chimpanzees.”

The cover of National Geographic magazine, August 1963

A Novel Approach  

The issue was a huge success. Goodall and van Lawick created ideas for more articles and films.

In 1964, Goodall was set to give her first major public lecture in the United States. She had not written a draft of her speech. But Goodall knew what she wanted to say. She reported
her discoveries.

She described scenes of Gombe’s beauty. She also described the chimps by their personalities and the names she’d given them. She said Fifi was “agile and acrobatic.” She then described Fifi’s older brother, Figan, as an adolescent who “feels he’s a little bit superior.”

a chimp named Pom

Goodall watches Flint from a doorway.

Jane described the need to protect the chimps and prevent them from being shot or sold to circuses. She told the audience that David Greybeard had opened the door to many important discoveries.

“David Greybeard ... has put his complete trust in man,” she said. “Shall we fail him? Surely it’s up to us to do something to ensure that at least some of these fantastic, almost human creatures continue to live undisturbed in their natural habitat.” Her presentation was a triumph. It was the beginning of her long and successful career.

Jane Goodall, Continued

Jane Goodall went on to earn her
Ph.D. from Cambridge University.
She has published many magazine articles and books. In 1991, she founded an organization called “Roots & Shoots” in Tanzania. Its goal is to help young people begin careers in conservation work. Today, her work in conservation continues.