Lawrence, Elizabeth Atwood 1929-2003

views updated

LAWRENCE, Elizabeth Atwood 1929-2003

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born October 1, 1929, in Boston, MA; died of multiple myeloma, November 11, 2003, in Boston, MA. Veterinarian, educator, and author. Lawrence had the unique distinction of being probably the only veterinary-anthropologist in the United States; she was an expert on the interrelationship between human societies and animals. After completing an English degree at Mount Holyoke College in 1951, she decided to become a veterinarian at a time when the field was dominated by men. Despite experiencing considerable chauvinism, she completed her D.V.M. at the University of Pennsylvania in 1956 and set up a private practice at her home in Westport, Massachusetts. Nearly twenty years later, she went back to school to study anthropology, earning a master's in 1976 and a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology in 1979 from Brown University. Combining the two disciplines, Lawrence made it her passion to study how various cultures interacted with animals from the United States to the Amazon forest to the Antarctic. She completed five books about her findings, including Rodeo: An Anthropologist Looks at the Wild and the Tame (1984), Hoofbeats and Society: Studies of Human-Horse Interactions (1985), and Hunting the Wren: Transformation of Bird to Symbol (1997). In her writings and lectures, Lawrence emphasized how important animals were to people and bemoaned the fact that humans were destroying this relationship by driving many animals into extinction. Having raised both horses and Siberian huskies for many years, she understood this relationship on a personal level, as well. In 1980 she began further spreading her knowledge by teaching veterinary-anthropology at Tufts University, where she was a professor of environmental and population health at the School of Veterinary Medicine from 1981 to 2001. Her course on human-animal interactions became a required class for vet students there. In addition to being named Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year by the American Veterinary Medical Association in 1988, Lawrence was recognized for her achievements with the Distinguished Service Award from the American Veterinary History Society in 1993. More recently, she was given an award for outstanding community service by the Fall River Chamber of Commerce in 1997, and in 1999 she was named Paul Harris Fellow by the Foundation of Rotary International.



Boston Globe, November 18, 2003, p. C7.


Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, (November 15, 2003).

About this article

Lawrence, Elizabeth Atwood 1929-2003

Updated About content Print Article