Lena Clemmons Artz

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Lena Clemmons Artz
Lena Clemmons Artz, 1926.jpg
BornAugust 3, 1891
DiedJune 2, 1976 (1976-06-03) (aged 84)
Alma materThe College of William and Mary, A.B.; The George Washington University, M.A.
Scientific career
InstitutionsVirginia Public Schools
Author abbrev. (botany)Artz
Lena Clemmons Artz Signature 1935.jpg

Lena Clemmons Artz (August 3, 1891 – June 2, 1976) was an American botanist and secondary-school educator dedicated to the study of the flora of Virginia, particularly that of its shale barrens and other mountain ecosystems. The standard author abbreviation Artz is used to indicate this person as the author when citing a botanical name.[1]

Early life[edit]

Artz was born on August 3, 1891, in Woodstock, Virginia (Shenandoah County) to Cedena Catherine (née Poland) and James Peter Artz.[2] She was raised with her five siblings on the family's farm, which was located along the east bank of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at the foot of the Massanutten Mountains. The first known evidence of her interest in botany dates to 1917, when she corresponded with a popular science magazine to report her contributions of "potato seed balls [fruits?], dodder, and willow cone galls."[3] Census records indicate that by 1920,[4] Artz was employed as a public school teacher and resided in the family home.

Scientific education and life as an independent scholar[edit]

In 1927, Artz graduated with an A.B. degree from The College of William & Mary at the age of 35.[5] She was the first and only of her immediate family to attend college. Photographs indicate she was active in student groups (J. Leslie Hall Literary Society, Shenandoah Valley Club, Clayton-Grimes Biology Club), notably taking a leadership position in 1926 as the first-semester Secretary for the Clayton-Grimes Biology Club.[6][7] Her involvement in the Biology Club is the first evidence of her academic interest in biology and what would become the focus of her later career as an educator and independent scholar.

In 1935, Artz graduated with a M.A. degree from the Columbian College of The George Washington University.[8] Her thesis research, "Plants of the shale banks of the Massanutten Mountains" described the vascular flora of the shale barren ecosystems within this mountain range, analyzed the disjunct distributions of select shale-barren taxa and investigated their root structure. In 1937, she was elected to the Botanical Society of Washington,[9] part of the Washington Academy of Science, and joined the newly formed Southern Appalachian Botanical Society.[10] By 1941, Artz was a biology teacher at Mt Vernon High School and sponsor of its student science club,[11] which attended Virginia Academy of Science meetings. Census and publication records indicate that she resided in Washington, DC[12] and Arlington, Virginia[13] until at least 1942, after which she retired from the Virginia public school system and moved to Fort Valley in the Massanutten Mountains of Virginia.[14]

Image of Lena from the shoulders upwards, her gaze directed to the right of the viewer.
Portrait of Lena Clemmons Artz from the mid-1940's.

Following retirement as an educator, Artz expanded the scope of her scholarly activities while continuing to conduct original research. She joined the American Fern Society and the Ecological Society of America in 1948[14] and 1949,[15] respectively, and was elected as the first female vice-president of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Society in 1953.[16] Acknowledgements in other papers indicate Artz continued to assist other botanists in exploring the Massanuttens and surrounding regions and in distributing herbarium specimens.[17][18] She also continued as an active member of the Virginia Academy of Science (VAS) and its Virginia Flora Committee. In recognition of her lifetime achievements, Artz was elected as an Honorary Life Member of the Virginia Academy of Science on March 20, 1976,[19] less than three months before her death. In 1978, Artz was recognized posthumously as a benefactor of the US National Parks & Conservation Association, which noted that she was "an ardent conservationist as well as an outstanding taxonomic botanist".[20]


  • Artz, L. (1968). Plant life in the Shenandoah Valley. In Belle Grove (first, pp. 50–58). National Trust for Historic Preservation. [reprinted in 1981]
  • Artz, L. C. (1974). Native plants used by the North American Indians. Quarterly Bulletin of the Archeological Society of Virginia, 29(2), 80–88. [reprinted in 2007 in Pottery, Projectile Points and Native People: Vol. II (pp. 139–150). Archeological Society of Virginia.]


  1. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Artz.
  2. ^ Artz, L. C. (1956). Delayed certificate of a birth before June 14, 1912. Virginia Department of Health Bureau of Vital Statistics.
  3. ^ Artz, Lena (1917). The Guide to Nature. Vol. 10. The Agassiz Society. p. 254.
  4. ^ South, Harvey W. (1920). "Fourteenth census of the United States: 1920. Virginia, Shenandoah County. Johnston Township". Department of Commerce - Bureau of the Census.
  5. ^ Anonymous (1928). "Degrees conferred summer session 1927". Bulletin - the College of William and Mary in Virginia. XXII(1): 221–222.
  6. ^ Anonymous (1925). The Colonial Echo Yearbook. Williamsburg, Virginia: The College of William & Mary. p. 197.
  7. ^ Anonymous (1926). The Colonial Echo Yearbook. Williamsburg, Virginia: The College of William & Mary. pp. 110, 134, 193.
  8. ^ Anonymous (1935). The Cherry Tree Yearbook. Washington, DC: The George Washington University. p. 34.
  9. ^ McKinney, H.H. (1938). "Proceedings of the Academy and affiliated societies: Botanical Society". Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 28 (4): 203–208. JSTOR 24530370.
  10. ^ Anonymous (1937). "A list of the members of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club". Castanea. 2 (2): 19–26.
  11. ^ Miller, E.C.L (1941). "Societies and meetings: The Virginia Academy of Science". Science. 93(2424) (2424): 571–572. doi:10.1126/science.93.2424.571.a. PMID 17809701. S2CID 239821286.
  12. ^ McClellan, Dorothy (1930). "Fifteenth census of the United States: 1930. Washington DC, Police Precinct 3. Block 50. Virginia Apartments". Department of Commerce - Bureau of the Census.
  13. ^ Artz, Lena (1942). "Plants at the edges of their ranges". The Virginia Journal of Science. III(2&3): 50–52.
  14. ^ a b Morton, C.V. (1948). "American Fern Society - New Members". American Fern Journal. 38: 95–96. JSTOR 1545033.
  15. ^ Lawrence, D.B. (1949). "Announcement of the Vancouver, B. C. Meeting, Membership Committee, Report on Mail Ballot on Amendment to the Constitution, Miscellaneous Announcements, Proceedings for 1948, Changes in Membership". Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America. 30 (1): 1–24.
  16. ^ Baranski, Michael J. (1986). "Fifty Years of Southern Appalachian Botany: A Profile of the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club". Castanea. 51 (4): 247–262. JSTOR 4033308.
  17. ^ Fosberg, F. R. (1954). "Notes on Plants of the Eastern United States". Castanea. 19 (1): 25–37. JSTOR 4031640.
  18. ^ Gillespie, James R. (1962). "A theory of relationships in the Lycopodium inundatum complex". American Fern Journal. 52 (1): 19–26. doi:10.2307/1546470. JSTOR 1546470.
  19. ^ Anonymous (1976). "News and Notes". Virginia Journal of Science. 27 (1): 28.
  20. ^ Anonymous (1978). "NCPA Benefactors - Lena Artz" (PDF). National Parks & Conservation Magazine. 52 (2): 27.