Lucy Braun (1889–1971) 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 in the sciences and the third woman ever to receive a Ph.D. Her sister Annette was the first. Lucy earned her Ph.D. in 1914, six years before woman won the right to vote in the U.S.

Dr. Braun was a remarkable individual, encompassing many roles in her life: sister, teacher, conservationist and, most importantly, scientist. Lucy was one of the first people to conduct scientific research in the field of plant ecology. 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.

Lucy’s effort to preserve a small xeric limestone prairie, now known as “Lynx Prairie,” resulted in not only the preservation of this small 22-acre parcel, but this first acquisition also acted as the cornerstone of what was to become the 20,000-acre Richard & Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System. The conservation of this small patch of prairie was important not just locally. Her efforts led directly to the establishment of what would become the largest conservation organization in the world – The Nature Conservancy, which would go on to help conserve over 119 million acres worldwide.

A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun

A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun is a one-hour documentary that explores the life and legacy of E. Lucy Braun, one of the foremost botanists and ecologists in American history.

The film is a co-production of Meg Hanrahan Media and Voyageur Media Group, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to the creation of public media about science, history and culture. The one-hour documentary was broadcast on regional public television stations during the fall of 2018.

The film premiered on television on CET on Sunday, October 7, 2018.

Get a copy of the DVD!

DVDs of A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun are available for $25. To make a purchase, complete the order form on Voyageur Media Group's website.

A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun is made possible with the support of Meshewa Farm Foundation, Ohio Humanities, Anness Family Charitable Fund, Alan B. Lindner Family Fund, Camden Foundation, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio, Cincinnati Museum Center, Mr. and Mrs. H.C. Buck Niehoff, Motch Family Foundation, Inc., Indian Hill Garden Club, University of Cincinnati College of Arts and Sciences, Hope Taft, Amy Banister and Carl Stich, Cincinnati Wild Flower Preservation Society, Midwest Native Plant Society and numerous individual donors.

Lesson plans for A Force for Nature: Lucy Braun

The production team, in collaboration with Cincinnati Museum Center, have developed educational materials to supplement this documentary. Lesson plans cover a wide variety of topics in science, social studies, history, language arts and math and are appropriate for upper elementary grades through high school. National standards covered by each lesson plan are available to view here. Educators are encouraged to download and read through this introduction prior to executing the lesson plans.

Upper elementary:

The Life of Dr. E. Lucy Braun
Champions Among Us
Treasure Chest of Science

Middle school and high school lesson plans coming soon!

CMC’s E. Lucy Braun Collections

Preserving the Photography of the Braun Sisters blog post
Collections housed at CMC

External resources
University of Cincinnati

UC’s Herbarium
UC Magazine article
LiBlog post
Archives and Rare Books Library

Eastern Kentucky University and Alice Jones

One-woman play starring Alice Jones about the Braun sisters

Western Kentucky University

A Biographical History of Biogeography by Charles H. Smith, Ph.D., Joshua Woleben, and Caruble Rodgers

Pine Mountain Settlement School

Biography, photographs, information about Dr. Braun’s work in the area and the full text of “Save the Big Trees,” Lucy Braun talk before the Garden Club of Kentucky in Millerburg, KY, March 29, 1935

Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives: photographs from E. Lucy Braun of Kentucky and Tennessee forests

Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

U.S. Herbarium housing specimens collected by both E. Lucy and Annette Braun

Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation

Field notebooks and other materials from E. Lucy Braun