Born to American parents in Dinard, France, Jackson attended school in New England and Switzerland and spent summers in New Mexico. He began studies at the Experimental College of the University Of Wisconsin before transferring to Harvard College, where he majored in history and literature. After graduating in 1932, Jackson briefly studied architecture at MIT. In 1940 he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Europe and North Africa during World War II as an intelligence officer. Returning to the U.S. in 1946, he settled in New Mexico, building his home in La Cienega outside of Santa Fe. In 1951 he founded Landscape magazine, for which he edited, published and wrote much of the content until 1968, when he sold the magazine. Jackson used the magazine as a vehicle to analyze the American cultural landscape and formulate his own landscape philosophy. Jackson’s writings explored such ideas as the creation of community, symbolism, and the impact of American policy, politics and culture on the vernacular landscape. He laid out his ideas in a series of essays which were published collectively between 1970 and 1997, beginning with Landscapes: Selected Writings of J.B. Jackson. His thinking laid the groundwork for the development of a new field, Landscape Studies, which he further developed as an educator, teaching at the University of California Berkeley and Harvard in the 1960s and 70s.