Jones, Erin Bain (1896–1974)

By: Joseph W. McKnight

Type: Biography

Published: February 1, 1995

Updated: April 27, 2019

Erin Bain Jones, attorney, author, philanthropist, and lay expert on environmental issues, the daughter of Lewis E. and Barbara (Harris) Bain, was born at Kerens, Texas, on July 28, 1896. Extensive travel-first with her family, as her father, a bank examiner, moved from job to job, and later with her husband, John Leddy Jones, a wealthy businessman-instilled in her a life-long desire for knowledge. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1922, she enrolled in the first law school class at Southern Methodist University and graduated in 1928. She went on to earn three additional degrees at SMU: a master's degree in comparative literature (1935), and master's (1968) and doctoral (1969) degrees in law.

Mrs. Jones made significant contributions by her legal research, her local and statewide civic activities, and her interest in oceanography and the environment. She wrote two books, Earth Satellite Telecommunication Systems and International Law (1970) and The Law of the Sea: Oceanic Resources (1972). She was an associate of the Marine Biomedical Institute at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and served on that body's national advisory committee. Although not herself a scientist, she traveled to both the North Pole and the South Pole on oceanographic research expeditions and studied energy and pollution-related problems. She was a member of the American Bar Association and the International Federation of Women Lawyers. She served as a consultant to the advisory board of the Texas Atomic Energy Committee. A staunch friend of education, she also served on the executive committee of the Chancellor's Council of the University of Texas System. She contributed funds to the University of Texas as well as to Dallas Baptist College, Baylor University, and SMU. She donated the Erin Bain Jones Library of Comparative Literature to SMU. She was a cofounder and first president of the Friends of the Dallas Public Library and a member of the boards of directors of the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (now the Dallas Museum of Art), the Dallas Civic Opera Company, and the Dallas Theater Center.

Southern Methodist University recognized Erin Jones as a Distinguished Alumna in 1962; she was subsequently chosen one of five annually selected Women of Achievement in 1970. She died in an air crash at Galveston on April 30, 1974.

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Dallas Daily Times Herald, May 1, 1974. Dallas Morning News, January 19, 1973, May 2, 1974. Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Texas, 1974.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Joseph W. McKnight, “Jones, Erin Bain,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 20, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 1, 1995
April 27, 2019

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