Sheilagh Thompson was born on December 10, 1923 to Robert and Leah Thompson. She grew up in Southern California and graduated from San Pedro High School. She earned her BA in 1944, her MA in 1947, and her PhD in 1951 all in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley. She married Richard Brooks on November 10, 1951, and the couple had two children, Kathleen and Carolyn.
During her time at Berkeley, Brooks held several positions including museum curator and research anthropologist. She also worked as an instructor in anthropology. She taught part-time at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) beginning in 1960. She relocated to Las Vegas permanently in 1966, and became the first full-time anthropology professor at UNLV. In 1973, she became a full professor and chair of the Anthropology-Ethnic Studies Department at UNLV. The Sheilagh Brooks Osteology Research Laboratory at UNLV is named in her honor for her many contributions to the University and to the study of anthropology and archaeology.
In addition to her teaching career, Brooks authored several articles on anthropology and was recognized as an expert in forensic anthropology. She also served in local and statewide organizations devoted to Nevada history and archaeology. She oversaw the excavation of Kiel Ranch in North Las Vegas, Nevada.
After suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, Brooks passed away in 2008.
Sheilagh Brooks Biographical File, Richard and Sheilagh Brooks Papers, 1919-2003. MS-00885. Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada.