Myra Ellen Jenkins received her bachelor's and master's degrees with distinction from CU.
She started teaching at Central in 1943 and served as the debate coach for four years and possibly two more. She resigned from teaching after the 1949-50 school year.
She then attained her Ph.D. in Latin American History from the University of New Mexico. Having studied old forms of the Spanish language proved invaluable when she became an archivist with the New Mexico Records Center. She could read Army officers' Day Reports from the early 1600's. From 1969-1980 she served as New Mexico State Historian, specializing in land grants, water rights, and Pueblo Indian research. Her career as State Historian ended with her resignation in protest of racist actions of a BIA official. She earned many honors, including being chosen for the New Mexico Women's Hall of Fame in 1988 and was named an honorary member of the Sandia Indian Pueblo.
After her retirement she served as expert historical witness in court cases involving several Pueblos. Her testimony before Congress won the Taos Pueblo the right to their sacred Blue Lake. She also helped Santa Domingo Pueblo settle a claim about its boundary. Her final legal case involved the lawsuit of the San Luis people and the landlord who had blocked the people from their use of mountain land for grazing flocks.
She died in 1993. She made specific plans about disposition to donate all of her papers, notes, and publications to the Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College. In her honor, artist Gene Kloss donated five of her etchings of southwest Colorado scenes to Fort Lewis College.