Lucy Braun: Pioneer Ecologist is now A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun. The project is a co-production of Meg Hanrahan Media and Voyageur Media Group. “The documentary highlights the life of this incredible 20th century scientist,” Meg Hanrahan, Project Director, says. “We think Lucy Braun should be better recognized for her role as an important 20th century ecologist and a tireless advocate for preservation. Besides telling her story, the program documents important history in ecology, tells the tale of the fate of many of our virgin forests, and illustrates the rewards of successful preservation of natural spaces.” The one-hour documentary is scheduled for release to Ohio and Kentucky public television stations in spring of 2018.
The production team has had a busy year capturing interviews and hours of beautiful footage to tell the Lucy Braun story. In recent shoots, the team recorded interviews with Hope Taft, former First Lady of Ohio; Dr. David Stradling, Associate Dean for Humanities & Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati; Dr. Theresa Culley, Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati; Martin McAllister, Appalachian Forests Project Manager for The Nature Conservancy; Chris Bedel, Director for the Cincinnati Museum Center at the Edge of Appalachia Preserves; and Allison Cusick, Research Associate at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. See more in Production (below). Post production is scheduled for fall of 2017.
The Midwest Native Plant Society hosted a conference titled On the Trail of E. Lucy Braun that was held August 25th – 27th, 2017 at Shawnee State Park Lodge in Ohio. More than 150 people attended the conference that included presentations and a variety of field trips. Meg Hanrahan, one of four keynote speakers, presented images and stories from her research, and showed off some of the documentary’s footage in a 7-minute video. In a typical response, one participant commented: “I choked up watching your film! Her spirit was there. It was so beautiful. I cannot wait to see it all.” More info about Midwest Native Plant Society programs at: http://midwestnativeplants.org/
Meg is also scheduled to present her research and preview clips at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Native Plant Symposium on November 11th, 2017. More info about Cincinnati Zoo programs at: http://cincinnatizoo.org/
“Preserving the Photography of the Braun Sisters” by James DaMico in the Summer 2017 volume of the journal Ohio Valley History highlights the collaboration between the Cincinnati Museum Center’s History Library & Archives and Voyageur to preserve the Braun sisters collection of photographs. DaMico’s essay describes the collection and this collaborative effort funded by a Voyageur grant from the Anness Family Fund. See more in Collaboration (below).
Support for Lucy Braun continues to grow, earning broad support as it continues production in 2017. Meg Hanrahan underscores the critical importance of the project’s funders: “We couldn’t do this without them. Thanks to their generous support, we will bring Lucy Braun’s incredible story of perseverance and preservation to hundreds of thousands of public television viewers, teachers and students.” The project has received a total of $69,350 in grants and donations:
- Meshewa Farm Foundation awarded a major grant of $25,000 for production in December 2016. Robert Edmiston, Trustee, emphasized the foundation’s interest in supporting preservation, as well as projects by and about women. Preservationist Bonnie Mitsui founded Meshewa and Turner Farms in Indian Hill Ohio, in 1994.
- Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, awarded a major grant of $20,000 as part of its Toward a Beautiful Ohio initiative, designed “to strategically invest in public conversations that address environmental issues from a humanities perspective.” Ohio Humanities also supported planning with an earlier grant of $2,000.
- The Anness Family Charitable Fund supported planning with a $2,000 award, and awarded a second $5,000 grant to address a specific project need. The second grant funds Voyageur’s efforts, in collaboration with the Cincinnati History Library and Archives at the Cincinnati Museum Center, to conserve and digitize the substantial Annette and Lucy Braun collection of photographs. Read more about this collaboration below.
- The Alan B. Lindner Family Fund provided support with a generous gift of $5,000.
- The Camden Foundation provided support with a generous gift of $5,000.
- The Cincinnati Museum Center provided support with a generous gift of $4,000.
- The Indian Hill Garden Club provided support with a generous gift of $2,500.
- Amy Banister & Carl Stich provided support with a generous gift of $1,000.
- The Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society provided support with a generous gift of $1,000.
- The Midwest Native Plant Society, Inc. provided support with a generous gift of $1,000
- Other donors supporting the project include: Hope Taft, Judy & Francis Ganance, Chris Bedel & Suzanne Chouteau, Upstream 360, Christine Hadley, Barb & Mort Nicholson, Polly Whittaker, Elizabeth Huey, Steve & Pam Inglish, and Steve & Ann Bobonick.
Watch our latest trailer for A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun!
Here is an older preview video for you to enjoy! Special thanks to: Meg Hanrahan, producer; Matthew Davis, Editfreak, editor; and Jenny Trier, narrator.
Lucy and Annette Braun compiled extensive collections of papers, specimens, drawings, photographs and albums from research and travels that included more than a dozen trips to the American west. During the planning phase, Meg Hanrahan explored archives and personal collections at the Cincinnati Museum Center, Lloyd Library and Museum, Miami University, University of Cincinnati, Hunt Botanical Library, and the Smithsonian Institution. The academic rigor of the Brauns’ work is simply breathtaking. “It’s a treasure hunt that’s allowed us to discover and appreciate Lucy and her sister, Annette — their personalities, wanderings and circles of influence. Truly fascinating to explore.” Photo: Lucy Braun (right) fords stream during field research in 1910 at Beechwood Camp, Hueston Woods, Ohio. Courtesy, Willard Sherman Turrell Herbarium, Miami University.
Voyageur and Meg Hanrahan Media collaborated with the Cincinnati History Library and Archives at the Cincinnati Museum Center to conserve and digitize photographs in the Annette and E. Lucy Braun Papers. The collection includes 1200 pages of photos in 17 albums, as well as hundreds of loose images. The Braun sisters captured most of the images.
The Cincinnati History Library & Archives cataloged and conserved the images. Scott Gampfer, Director, and James DaMico, Curator of Photographs and Prints, repaired loose bindings, reattached loose photographs, and prepared a master catalogue for tracking and archiving the entire Braun photographic collection. The collection then went to the Digital Services Department of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County where archivists created digital scans of the album pages, many of which contain handwritten descriptions, on large format scanning equipment.
Photo (right to left): Scott Gampfer, James DaMico (CMC), Tom Law and Meg Hanrahan (Voyageur) discuss the conservation process for the Braun photographic collection.
Voyageur wrapped up digitization efforts by creating individual images of the photographs on each scanned album page. The Cincinnati History Library & Archives will curate the images in the Annette and E. Lucy digital collection for access and educational use by scholars and students throughout the world. Select photographs will be used to help tell the story in A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun. The Cincinnati History Library & Archive manages any publication requests according to its institutional standards, which means the collection will be professionally managed for future generations. We’re excited to be part of this significant collaborative conservation and digitization effort, made possible by a generous grant from The Anness Family Charitable Fund.
Photo: Images from Yellowstone National Park from one of about 1,200 photo album pages to be preserved and digitized.
Chris Bedel, Director, Edge of Appalachia Preserve, has been a huge advocate for the Lucy Braun project. Bedel has provided his expert advice to the advisory panel, and served as a guide to many sites that Braun helped to preserve. The production team has already documented ecosystems and activities in a variety of preserves and parks. This includes several visits to the Edge with environmentalist Helen Black, in her nineties, who drove Lucy and her sister Annette to Adams County on numerous field research trips. Hanrahan and videographer Beth Fowler have also documented scholars, environmental activists and nature enthusiasts in the field, including: Rick Gardner, Chief Botanist for Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves; Dr. Meg Riestenberg, geologist and ecologist at Mt. St. Joseph College; and members of the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society, an organization Braun started that’s celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2017. Photo: Helen Black (left), Mary Jo Sage (center) and Chris Bedel (right) inspect spring wildflowers at Tiffin Cliffs, Edge of Appalachia Preserve in Adams County, Ohio.
We have also interviewed artist Devere Burt, who served as Regional Director of the Nature Conservancy, and Director of the Cincinnati Natural History Museum for 25 years. Devere and his wife, Pat, live in the former home of Lucy and Annette Braun, who named the residence and surrounding property “Braunwood.” Devere, who knew the sisters, shared memorabilia found in the home, and provided a tour of the gardens that still retain some of the rare plants Lucy and Annette brought home from field trips. Photo: Lucy Braun on her porch at “Braunwood” in 1944.
Lucy Braun conducted extensive studies in Kentucky in the counties surrounding Lilley Cornett Woods, an old growth forest that still remains. Our team explored Braun’s history in the area and documented the mixed mesophytic forest that had been a focus of her studies. Dr. Alice Jones, Director of the Appalachian Studies and Environmental Sustainability & Stewardship Programs at Eastern Kentucky University, served as guide. Jones is writing a one-person play about the Brauns. In 2015, Braun was inducted into the Kentucky Botany Hall of Fame for her outstanding research and publications. Photo: Dr. Alice Jones and Robert Watts at the Lilley Cornett Woods Appalachian Ecological Research Station in Letcher County, Kentucky.
E. Lucy Braun
Lucy Braun was born and lived her entire life in Cincinnati. She received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Cincinnati before becoming the second woman ever to receive a Ph.D. there — (her sister Annette was the first) — accomplishments that all came before women received the right to vote. According to Ronald L. Stuckey who wrote a biographical sketch of Braun shortly after her death in 1971, “Dr. Braun was one of the truly dedicated pioneer ecologists of the first half of the 20th century. Photo: E. Lucy Braun. Courtesy, University of Cincinnati.
Her work coincided with the time when the field of plant ecology was becoming recognized as a scientific discipline. Truly her work was instrumental in the development of that discipline.” Her research culminated in the book Deciduous Forests of Eastern Northern America (1950), a groundbreaking publication that received recognition and praise for its detailed documentation of deciduous trees from New Brunswick to Florida. In all, Braun published over 180 works including four books and papers in 20 different journals. Photo: Lucy Braun (seated right) during a picnic with the Botany Department, University of Cincinnati, at Devou Park, Kentucky in 1918. Courtesy, Lloyd Library and Museum.
One of Braun’s most important traits may have been her ability to inspire others toward learning and conservation. Common stories tell of expeditions in which she led students, garden club members, and wealthy patrons into the field to share her knowledge and enthusiasm, and to garner support for preservation of areas she found ecologically significant. She was the catalyst for all that became the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County, Ohio. Her impact is also apparent in numerous organizations like the Ecological Society of America and Cincinnati Wildflower Society, and in important publications of those organizations, including Naturalist’s Guide to the Americas (1926) and Wild Flower magazine. Photo: Lucy Braun beside plaque designating Lynx Prairie in Adams County, Ohio, as a National Natural Landmark in 1967. Courtesy, Lloyd Library and Museum.
“Lucy Braun is well known by botanists and naturalists for her published works,” says Meg Hanrahan, Project Director, “but her contributions remain largely unknown by broader audiences.” Hanrahan adds, “Her personal life remains hidden even to those appreciative of her scientific contributions. This documentary promotes greater recognition for a remarkable woman of science who produced landmark botanical guides that are still in use today, who was the driving force behind preservation of some of Ohio’s most beautiful natural spaces, and who still provides inspiration for those who carry the torch for conservation in our state and beyond.” Photo: Lucy Braun stands between two white cedars near Cedar Falls, Adams County, ca. 1926. Courtesy, Lloyd Library and Museum.
Meg Hanrahan is the Project Manager and Producer/Director. She is responsible for project management, fundraising, research, writing, producing and directing. Meg is an award winning documentary maker, media producer and writer. Her credits include two Emmy award winners: Voyageur’s Sacred Spaces of Greater Cincinnati (2008) and Cincinnati Parks: Emeralds in the Crown (2009). The hour-long documentaries were broadcast on CET (Cincinnati’s PBS station). Additional media credits include museum installations at the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cleveland Health Museum, and Ft. Worth Zoo. Meg also regularly produces video for Procter & Gamble and numerous other corporations and nonprofit organizations. She has a BA from the Union Institute and University, and extends her reach in the community as an adjunct instructor at the University of Cincinnati Blue Ash College in the Electronic Media Department.
Beth Fowler is the Director of Photography. Beth has served as the “DP” for most of Voyageur’s documentary projects, as well as numerous other arts and cultural institutions in Greater Cincinnati. Fowler has a long list of national and international broadcast clients, including PBS, CBS, ABC, TNT, ESPN, FOX Sports and the Olympics. Her corporate clients include many Fortune 500 companies, from Procter & Gamble to Toyota. Recently, she served as chief lighting director for the CBS broadcast of Super Bowl 50, and as a video engineer aboard Bob Ballard’s ocean research vessel – The Nautilus. Fowler graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a BFA in radio and television.
The Lucy Braun documentary project features a strong advisory panel of scholars (below) who are providing direction and content reviews at each phase of development. Voyageur and Meg Hanrahan Media embrace academic peer reviews, says Tom Law, President, Voyageur Media Group, Inc. “Advisory panels are vital to our efforts in producing educational media that is accurate, balanced and engaging,” says Law. Photo: Project advisors, staff and volunteers gather after a planning phase meeting in 2016.
Chris Bedel is the Preserve Director for Cincinnati Museum Center at the 18,000 acre Richard & Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County, Ohio. He’s been with the museum for 30 years, serving as the Coordinator of Special Exhibits for seven years (1985-1992) and Preserve Director for twenty-three years (1992-present). He manages the museum’s portfolio of educational programs and conducts basic science to document the biodiversity of the preserve. Championing the preserve is central in all his roles and to this end he conducts lectures, leads guided hikes & workshops, creates printed & web products and organizes exhibits to build awareness. He also serves as liaison for visiting researchers who work, and/or teach on the preserve. His background in art (BFA Xavier University, Ohio 1985) lends creativity to all his endeavors and provides a unique perspective for promoting the beauty and wonder that is the eastern forest.
Anita Buck graduated from Xavier University with a degree in English, concentrating in American Studies and minoring in film. She spent several years as a writer and editor at the former Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, where she became familiar with the Edge of Appalachia. Prior to that, she wrote film and theater criticism for Cincinnati Magazine and WGUC-FM, and worked as a freelance feature and copywriter and as a book editor. Since her years at CMNH, she has resumed her freelancing ways, editing trade and textbooks, museum labels and catalogues, and writing grants and other fundraising materials. She is co-author, with Susan Labry Meyn, of On the Edge: A History of the Richard & Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, Adams County, Ohio.
Devere E. Burt retired as Director Emeritus of the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History in 1996 after 25 years as President and CEO. He was part of the core team that managed the 75 million dollar transformation of Cincinnati’s Union Terminal into the Cincinnati Museum Center. Burt has a BS in Wildlife Biology and an MS in Animal Ecology from Iowa State University. Upon retirement, he devoted his energies to wildlife painting, and has never looked back. His work is now part of countless private collections, museums and galleries, and has been shown in dozens of exhibits. He serves on the board of the Cincinnati Nature Center where he chairs the $25 million capital campaign, is a founding trustee of the Susan Kathleen Black Foundation, and a Park Commissioner for Great Parks of Hamilton County. Additionally, he is a member of the Ohio Valley Art League, the Society of Animal Artists and Masterworks for Nature, an organization that includes the work of seven other wildlife artists, including John Ruthven.
Sarah Evans has worked as an Interpretive Naturalist at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Woodland Altars Outdoor Education Center (Adams County Ohio), The Wildlife Rescue Center of Broward County (Florida), Marine Sciences Under Sails (Ft. Lauderdale Florida), and the Hamilton County Park District. She is a member of the board of directors of Voyageur Media Group and a director of the Library Foundation for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. She is former Mayor of the City of Madeira, Ohio. Evans’ interest in Lucy Braun began during her graduate studies at the University of Cincinnati. She was a teaching assistant to Professor Janice Beatley, who introduced her to Dr. Braun’s work and her considerable contributions to the fields of ecology, conservation and botany. She spends as much time as possible on her property near Mineral Springs in Adams County.
Susan Labry Meyn, Ph.D. is a Consulting Ethnologist and the former Curator of Ethnology at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. In addition, she has served as adjunct professor at Mount St. Joseph and Northern Kentucky University. She and Anita Buck wrote On the Edge: A History of the Richard & Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, Adams County, Ohio. Her Ph. D. is in Interdisciplinary Studies (American Indian History and Anthropology) from the University of Cincinnati and her published dissertation, “More Than Curiosities: A Grassroots History of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board and Its Precursors, 1920-1942,” included interviews with 27 American Indian artisans who worked with the Board during the first years of its existence. Currently she is employed as a Consulting Ethnologist for Cowan’s Auctions and as an ad hoc writer for local museums, auction houses, and collectors.
David Stradling, Ph.D. is a Professor of History and a Fellow of the Graduate School at the University of Cincinnati where he has taught urban and environmental history since 2000, including courses on the History of Cincinnati, Twentieth-Century American Cities, Environmental History of North America to 1900, and Twentieth-Century American Environmental History. Stradling received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1996, after having earned a BA and MAT from Colgate University. He taught for two years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark, New Jersey, before moving to Cincinnati. His research has focused on urban environmental history, including the struggle to improve air quality and the many ways in which urbanization has influenced rural America. Stradling has authored, edited and/or contributed to more than 80 books, articles and papers, and is the winner of 16 grants, honors and awards.