Biography: Jana Marie Duggar

Jana Marie Duggar was born on January 12, 1990, three minutes before her fraternal twin brother, John-David. That small margin makes her the second of Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar‘s nineteen biological children, and she is also their eldest daughter. Although Jana as an adult is known for her quiet demeanor- which is often a source of intrigue– as a child she was described as “rowdy” and “outgoing.” She began walking at eight months old and according to her mother, she was quite a handful.

In the book The Duggars: 20 and Counting!: Raising One of America’s Largest Families- How They Do It, readers learn that the Duggars began enrolling their children in music lessons when their oldest son was six, and although it is unclear whether Jana began at the same time, music has undoubtedly been a significant part of her life. In addition to the piano and violin lessons that every Duggar child was enrolled in, Jana also really wanted to learn how to play the harp. She was able to begin taking lessons after the family received a harp as a gift, which they considered an answer to prayer.

As the family’s oldest daughter, Jana has been responsible for a significant portion of the childcare for her younger siblings. By the time the Duggar’s first television special aired in 2004, she already had several years of child-rearing under her belt: under her mother Michelle’s famous buddy system, Jana’s first official “buddy” was her younger brother Jason, who was born in the year 2000, when Jana was ten years old. However, Michelle’s response to a Facebook fan question suggests that the buddy system existed in some form at least four years before that, when oldest son Joshua was eight years old, and Jana was six.

When Jana was eight years old, she slept in the top level of a bunk bed that she shared with her younger sister Jessa, who was six. Their parents purposely put them in a room together because they hadn’t been getting along, and in the book Growing Up Duggar, Jana tells readers that Jessa used to repeatedly kick Jana’s mattress at night, which made Jana so annoyed that she began to avoid spending time with her sister. After feeling personally convicted by a nighttime family devotion (and additional prompting from her mother), Jana decided to give forgive Jessa, which she demonstrated by giving her a treasured pink jewelry box. Both of them credit this moment as the beginning of a genuine friendship.

In September 2009, Jana first attended Journey to the Heart, an IBLP program for young women. She was led by Anna (Keller) Duggar’s sister, Priscilla (Keller) Waller, and eventually she became a leader herself. In the book Growing Up Duggar, Jana describes Journey to the Heart like this:

Journey leads participants to study eighteen “heart conditions” described in the Bible, both good conditions (like a pure heart, humble heart, or forgiving heart, for example) and bad conditions (for example, a “murmuring heart” focused on negativity and complaining). This journey helps participants focus on getting their heart “right” with the Lord and understanding His heart’s desire for them. In addition, powerful video messages and testimonies help attendees understand who God is, and they learn how to trust Him more fully. As a Journey leader, I get to see God working in the hearts of these individuals, and there’s just no experience like it.

(The above excerpt is from Growing up Duggar by Jill Duggar, Jinger Duggar, Jessa Duggar, and Jana Duggar)

In 2010, Jana was inspired to join the local volunteer fire department after her twin brother, John-David began volunteering and she became interested in his work. The 19 Kids and Counting episode Duggars on Fire shows Jana, John-David and Jill at work, but was perhaps more memorable for the “fire skirts” created by their sister-in-law Anna for the purpose of protecting the girls’ modesty on the job. Jana and Jill did wear regular protective gear on site; however, in their book they make a point to mention that the girls generally ran the pumps on the fire trucks as opposed to entering burning buildings, a task they left to the men. Eventually, Jana decided to leave the fire department because of the demands of her involvement with Journey to the Heart.

Over the summer of 2010, Jana and her twin brother John-David went on a month-long mission trip to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore. They both became sick while they were away. During the trip, Jana befriended Jonathan Hartono, who she was rumored to be in a relationship with several years later. That same year, a TLC interview with Michelle Duggar suggested that Jana might be pursuing a career in playing the harp; however, she has never received any formal musical training.

Jana attended Journey to the Heart again in June 2011, April 2012, June 2012, August 2012, and November 2012. The rather vague “About the Journey” section of the Journey to the Heart website markets the program as a relaxing retreat; however, it also includes a prison ministry component. A prerequisite for prisoners who wish to participate is successful completion of the IBLP “Basic Seminar.”

In 2012, Jana joined the rest of her family in their endorsement of Rick Santorum in his campaign for President of the United States, and she helped by driving the large family bus- which had been decked out in vinyl lettering for the campaign- and by providing childcare, both on the road and at home.

Over the years, Jana has continued to go on many short-term mission trips with family and friends. Pictured above is Jana with her father, Jim Bob Duggar, and four of her sisters, on a 2013 trip to Honduras.

That year, Jana continued to stay involved with the Journey to the Heart Program. She was an instructor at a Journey to the Heart seminar for inmates from a Florida prison, and she also promoted the program by participating in an IBLP-sponsored interview about Journey to the Heart, along with Erin Bates.

In a June 2013 TLC interview, Jana shared that she had been working as a midwife assistant while her sister Jill trained to become a Certified Professional Midwife (CPM). Jana’s limited contribution to the interview- in comparison to Jill’s enthusiasm- made some readers wonder if Jana’s real job was to chaperone her younger sister. The next year, Jana, along with her younger sisters Jill, Jessa, and Jinger, wrote the book Growing Up Duggar: It’s All About Relationships, which was published on March 4, 2014. The four sisters also narrated the audiobook.

In a spring 2014 interview with Crown of Beauty Magazine, a Christian online magazine for girls, Jana is described as “quiet” and “reserved,” which is evident in the fact that she does not share much about herself in the interview, other than her favorite travel location (Israel). Readers also learn from Jill that Jana has good leadership skills.

Jana is known for being a talented seamstress, and by the age of 15 she already had a reputation for being quite skilled. Ahead of her sister Jill’s wedding in June 2014, Jana was put in charge of altering the bridesmaids dresses to fit the Duggars’ strict modesty standards, which is shown in the 19 Kids and Counting episode Duggars Girls Go Glam. In the episode, Jana is cited as the main family seamstress, although some viewers have wondered whether or not this role was her choice. She is often referred to as “CinderJana” because of how hard she works for her family, who sometimes appears to take her for granted.

In the summer of 2014, Jana accompanied her brother Joshua, his wife Anna, and their three children on an RV trip from Washington, DC to Chicago, Illinois. The trip is shown in the 19 Kids and Counting Episode DC Duggars Hit the Road; however, Joshua’s family appears to be traveling without any assistance, which led some viewers to believe that Jana had been purposely cut from the storyline. That fall, Jana traveled with her brother’s family once again on a “Stand for the Family” bus tour sponsored by the Family Research Council. Jana helped out by driving the bus.

Although by October 2014, Jana appeared to have stepped back from her work as a midwife assistant, since then she has been present for several family births, including the birth of her sister Jill’s first child in April 2015, the birth of her sister Jessa’s first child in October 2015, the birth of Jessa’s second child in February 2017, and the birth of her sister Joy’s first child in February 2018 (Jana has had varying degrees of involvement in these births because each one has required different levels of medical care).

Because Jana, who is now in her late twenties, is currently single in a culture that emphasizes the importance of becoming a wife and mother, there is a lot of (often wild) speculation about why she hasn’t gotten married yet:

Despite this fascination with her love life- or perhaps because of it- Jana has not yet publicly expressed romantic interest in anyone. However, she has stated in the past that she does want to get married, but that she is waiting for the right guy. In a 2016 episode of Counting On, Jana stated that she has had multiple suitors, but that so far none of them have been the right one. She also mentioned her preference for a guy with “dirt under his nails” versus a guy who works in an office. In a March 2017 Crown of Beauty magazine interview, Jana says,

I know how it feels to wait for ‘Prince Charming’ to come along. I’m still waiting. Waiting is not always easy. Especially in those times when all the married siblings are getting together and you can’t go along because your [sic] not part of ‘that group.’

When she is not busy helping her entire family stay organizedbaby-sitting for her younger siblings, or acting as a bridesmaid, Jana enjoys gardening, which she has a clear talent for. She also has an eye for interior design, and her projects have been featured several times on the show Counting On.

 

If there is any information that I haven’t covered, let me know in the comments or via e-mail, and I will update this biography accordingly. I try my best to be factual, but feel free to give me a heads up if you find a mistake and I will make the correction as soon as possible!

 Image Sources:
  1. A recent picture of Jana Duggar
  2. Twins Jana and John-David Duggar with their dad and brother
  3. Jana Duggar playing the harp
  4. Young Jana Duggar feeding a baby
  5. Jana Duggar and Priscilla (Keller) Waller at Journey to the Heart
  6. Jana Duggar working as a volunteer firefighter
  7. Jana Duggar (5th from left) at Journey to the Heart
  8. Jana Duggar holding a child at a campaign event
  9. Jinger, Jill, Jim Bob, Jessa, Jana, and Joy Duggar in Honduras
  10. Jana Duggar at a Journey to the Heart prison ministry in Florida
  11. Jana Duggar altering her sister’s bridesmaids dresses
  12. Jana Duggar gardening

Parallel Jill

I’m a married, stay-at-home mom of two boys. I’m in my twenties, and I even have a nose piercing- sound familiar? Unlike Jill (Duggar) Dillard, however, I’m not a fundamentalist Christian. I did grow up in a strict Christian (Baptist) home, but I left the church when I was a teenager, and my life now is probably what Jill’s would look like in a parallel universe. Follow my new blog as I discuss religious fundamentalism, the Duggar family, and the TLC show Counting On.