BARBARA LAWRENCE (1909–1997)
BARBARA LAWRENCE (1909–1997)
The following In Memoriam for Barbara Lawrence was published in 1997 in Archaeofauna (6:145–148) by Richard H. Meadow and contributors Linda S. Braidwood, Robert J. Braidwood, Charles P. Lyman, Maria E. Rutzmoser, Marian Thornton and William Watkins. Following the text below is a bibliography of Barbara Lawrence publications, assembled by the same group. A second obituary was published in 1999 by Maria Rutzmoser in the Journal of Mammology 80(3):1048–1052. An earlier description of the Lawrence Award, including a summary of Barbara Lawrence's professional accomplishments, was contributed by Elizabeth Wing to the 1995 summer issue of the Journal of Ethnobiology, pages 151–152.
Barbara Lawrence was born in Boston, the third child of Harris and Theodora Lawrence. She graduated from the Winsor School and went on to receive her B.A. from Vassar College in 1931. Shortly after her graduation from Vassar, she joined the Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University, as Museum Assistant. Here she worked with the museum's director Dr. Thomas Barbour and the Curator of Mammals Dr. Glover Allen. Both men supported and encouraged her in mounting an expedition to collect natural history specimens and to study bats in the Philippines and Sumatra in 1936 and 1937. She did not go on to obtain a higher degree, but never regretted the fact. Indeed when anyone would address her as "Dr. Lawrence" she would gently insist that she be called "Miss Lawrence."
In 1938, she married William Schevill but professionally retained her maiden name. Her husband at the time was Librarian of the MCZ and also Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology. While raising their son and daughter, she assisted her husband in pioneering studies on echolocation in whales and porpoises. Together they produced the first scientific recordings of porpoise and whale sounds and studied the anatomy and food locating abilities of a variety of marine species. She was the first woman ever to sail on board a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution research ship. With Dr. Allen's death in 1942, Miss Lawrence became Associate and Acting Curator of Mammals and then, in 1952, Curator of Mammals in the MCZ until her retirement in 1976. She was committed to the care of the specimens in her department and instilled in her students and co-workers a respect for such collections not only for purposes of systematics and taxonomy and other scientific investigations but also as records of past and present biological diversity. She confirmed and continued the tradition of obtaining and curating whole skeletons of mammals, not merely skins and skulls. This made the MCZ collection one of the best in the world for the purposes of comparative osteology.
Miss Lawrence became involved in Zooarchaeology through her association with Dr. Allen who had long assisted archaeologist colleagues by identifying animal remains collected from ancient habitation sites. Initially her special interest was in the genus Canis and subsequently in the whole question of the origins of domestic animals. In her curatorial position, she interacted with researchers such as Stanley J. Olsen and Dexter Perkins, Jr., both of whom used the Mammal Department collections extensively in their own early work. In 1944, Miss Lawrence published a report on bones from the Governador area of New Mexico and in 1956 on recent cave fauna from sink holes in Iraq collected by Henry Field. The Canis remains from both these areas were of particular interest to her, and it was because of her interest in dogs and their close relatives that she was led to work on archaeological material from both the Old and New Worlds, not limiting herself to any one fauna. In 1956, she participated together with two other pioneering zooarchaeologists—Charles Reed and Paul Parmalee—in a special conference of the National Academy of Sciences on "The Identification of Non-Artifactual Archaeological Materials." Her comments, spelled out in the proceedings published in 1957, remain as valuable today as when they were expressed . She subsequently participated in and published insightful papers for two other seminal conferences in Zooarchaeology. The first was in Budapest in 1971; it marked the beginning of an organized effort to create an international body dealing with Zooarchaeology and resulted in the formation of the International Council on Archaeozoology in 1976. The second was in Dallas, Texas, in 1975; this symposium of the annual Society for American Archaeology meeting brought together for the first time in America zooarchaeologists from both sides of the Atlantic who were working on material from the Middle East.
During the late 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s, Miss Lawrence published a number of other important articles in Mammalogy and Zooarchaeology. In the 1960s she undertook investigation of a mysterious canid that was increasingly being found in the backwoods of New England. In collaboration with the statistician William Bossert, she demonstrated that this animal was not a hybrid but a coyote (Canis latrans), which has since become a common member of the New England fauna. At the same time she continued her work on archaeological canid material from both the New and Old Worlds, publishing in 1967 a seminal article on early domestic dogs. By then she had also started working with Robert and Linda Braidwood and Halet Çambel at the Neolithic site of Çayönü in southeastern Turkey. That excavation, begun in 1962, continued for thirty years, and even after her retirement, Miss Lawrence traveled to Turkey to participate in the fieldwork and to complete the analysis that would result in three major articles on the faunal remains from that site. During her trips to Turkey, Miss Lawrence became convinced of the need to train Turkish students—and by extension students of all nations—to carry out zooarchaeological analyses on materials from their own countries. Toward that end she encouraged the higher studies of Berrin Kusatman, a student in Prehistory at the University of Istanbul, and helped to support Berrin's degree work at the Institute of Archaeology, University of London. Berrin's unexpected death in 1992, shortly after finishing her degree, was a major blow to Miss Lawrence. In her last years, however, she was cheered by the knowledge that two Turkish students that Berrin herself had started to train were continuing work on the Çayönü material under the supervision of her last student Richard Meadow and his student Hitomi Hongo.
Those of us who had the opportunity to work or study with Miss Lawrence will always remember her warmth, enthusiasm, and encouragement. The esteem in which she was held by family, friends, and colleagues was reflected ten years before her death in the establishment of the Lawrence Award of the Society of Ethnobiology to be awarded each year to the best graduate student paper on a subject within the scope of Ethnobiology. Miss Lawrence remarked on a number of occasions that she viewed all her work as transitional -- between that which came before and that which would come after. As a result, she never felt threatened by others wishing to re-analyze that which she had studied; indeed she actively encouraged it. She insisted, however, on the highest standards of analysis, on clear and thorough presentation of materials, methods, and results, and on logically expressed interpretations. We will miss her good sense and gentle guidance in the years ahead.