Briggs, Shirley Ann 1918-2004

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BRIGGS, Shirley Ann 1918-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born May 12, 1918, in Iowa City, IA; died of cardiopulmonary failure November 11, 2004, in Derwood, MD. Naturalist, illustrator, and author. Briggs was an artist who became involved in nature conservation and was the former executive director of the Rachel Carson Council, which educates people about pesticides and other potentially hazardous chemicals. Studying art at the University of Iowa, where one of her professors was the famous "American Gothic" painter Grant Wood, she took a B.A. in 1939, followed by a master's degree in sculpture in 1940. After teaching art at North Dakota State College for two years and working as an illustrator for Glenn Martin Co. for another two years, she was hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Here she met Carson, the environmentalist famous for writing Silent Spring, and Briggs became involved in illustrating nature scenes. From 1948 until 1954 she was chief of graphics for the Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of the Interior, and she then worked as a painter for the Smithsonian Institute for a year and as a diorama artist for the National Park Service for another year. From 1947 until 1969 she was also the editor of Atlantic Naturalist magazine. Briggs taught natural history for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the early 1960s, and around this time helped Carson research her famous book. After Carson died from cancer in 1964, Briggs helped found the Rachel Carson Council. Working with the council, she coauthored Basic Guide to Pesticides (1992), which won the Rachel Carson Award from the Environmental Protection Agency. A longtime member of the Audubon Society, Briggs was often involved in bird-counting surveys; she also edited and illustrated The Trumpeter Swan (1960) and Landscaping for Birds (1973), as well as illustrating such nature titles as The Wonders of Seeds (1956) and Insects and Plants (1963). Later in life Briggs was honored with several awards for her many accomplishments, including the Robert van den Bosch award and medal from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993 and the Distinguished Alumni Achievement award from the University of Iowa in 1995.



Washington Post, November 16, 2004, p. B7.


Rachel Carson Council Web site, (January 20, 2005).

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Briggs, Shirley Ann 1918-2004

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