Lucy May Cranwell Smith
1907 - 2000

Lucy May Cranwell (Mrs. S. Watson Smith) died on the morning of June 8, 2000 of cancer at Saint Joseph's Hospital, Tucson, Arizona. She was preceded in death by her husband Samuel Watson Smith, and is survived by her son Benjamin Watson Smith.

Lucy was born August 7, 1907, in Henderson (now Cranwell Park, West Auckland), New Zealand, where her father, Benjamin Franklin Cranwell, owned an orchard and a hardware store. Lucy attended the Henderson public school, the Epsom Girls Grammar School (Central Auckland), and graduated with a M.A. from the University of Auckland in 1929. Lucy was a hockey player and strong swimmer, and matriculated with a double major in English and Botany. Her English major explains the quotes from Spenser, Keats, and Milton that enlivened her letters, as well as her considerable skill as an editor. The second (Botany) degree shaped her career, because upon graduation she was hired as Head of the Botany Department of the Auckland War Museum, a post she held until1944. Lucy Cranwell was awarded a D.Sc. degree from the University of Auckland in 1959.

Her duties at the Auckland Museum included setting up the new natural history galleries, care of the herbarium (her own collections for the herbarium number over 3600 specimens), service to the public through plant identifications, radio talks, preparing native flower shows, and regular newspaper columns. With her friend, Dr. Lucy Moore, the "two Lucys" carried out fieldwork in remote areas of New Zealand, collecting plant specimens and publishing their results. These areas included the Poor Knights Islands, Hen and Chickens Islands, the summit of Te Moehau, Mt Hikurangi, and the summit of Maungapohatu in the Urewera country.

Lucy married Watson Smith on September 30, 1943 in Auckland, where he was stationed as a Major in the U.S. Army Air Forces. The couple moved to the United States after Major Smith was transferred from the Pacific and to Washington, D.C. After being discharged, "Wat," as he was known, worked at the Peabody Museum of Harvard University, and Lucy held a post of Research Associate in the Botany Department of Harvard University from1944 to 1950. Their son, Benjamin Smith, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 19, 1947. After the family moved to Tucson, in 1950, Lucy became a Research Affiliate in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arizona - a post she held until her death.

Lucy Cranwell was made a Fellow of the Linnaean Society (London) in November 1937, "in recognition of botanical research work done both in New Zealand and Sweden and because of efforts she has made to stimulate interest in botany through her position at the Auckland Museum." Lucy was awarded the Hector Medal from the Royal Society of New Zealand in 1957, and she also won the Loder Cup (New Zealand's premier conservation award) in 1937. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society New Zealand in 1944, and was given an honorary DSc from Auckland University in March 1992 . In November, 1999, the Auckland Museum bestowed upon Lucy M. Cranwell its Honorary Fellowship in recognition of a life-time's distinguished contribution to the botanical sciences. Lucy was appointed a Fellow of the Arizona-Nevada Academy of Science in1983, an made an Honorary Member of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists in1989. In 1983, Lucy Cranwell and Watson Smith established the Cranwell Award in Palynology for Graduate Students. This award has provided research scholarships to 25 students since then.

Several living plant species have been named in her honor, as have been four microfossil taxa: the genera Cranwellia Srivastava, and Cranwellipollis Martin, and the species Nothofagus cranwellae Couper and Gephyrapollenites cranwellae Stover.

Lucy Cranwell began the study of microfossils under the guidance of Lennart von Post, the founder of pollen analysis, during the winter of 1935-36, when she was invited to Stockholm to study peat samples collected from Southland, New Zealand, by Carl Caldenius in 1934. This collaboration resulted in a joint paper presenting the first Australasian pollen diagram (Cranwell and von Post, 1936). In 1938 she was awarded a Bishop Museum (Honolulu) Fellowship by Yale University that allowed her to study Hawaiian montane bogs. These fossil studies were followed by Lucy's morphological studies of pollen from New Zealand and related genera and species (conifers 1938, Nothofagus 1939, 1963, 1964, keys to New Zealand genera 1942, monocots 1953, Acmopyle 1961, and others). Her arrival in the U.S. was heralded in Paul Sears' Pollen Analysis Circular (Sears, 1944). After moving to the U.S.A., Lucy Cranwell initiated the first palynological investigations of Antarctic sediments including McMurdo Sound erratics (1960 with H.J. Harrington and I. Speden), and reports on upper Cretaceous and Tertiary (Campanian to Eocene) finds (not in situ) from Seymour Island and Snow Hill (1959, 1964, 1966, 1969). Similar Eocene deposits were traced to Southern Chile and worked on with Cookson (Cookson and Cranwell, 1967).

Lucy Cranwell was a member of the Organizational Committee for the First International Conference on Palynology held in Tucson, April 23-27, 1962. The gracious accommodations of the Lucy and Watson's desert home (dubbed The Casa Gondwana) were a gathering place for many of the 175 international scientists, many of whom were visiting the American Southwest for the first time.


Cookson, I. C. and Cranwell, Lucy M. 1967. Lower Tertiary microplankton, spores and pollen grains from southernmost Chile. Micropaleontology 13: 204-216.

Cranwell, Lucy M. and von Post, L. 1936. Post-Pleistocene pollen diagrams from the Southern Hemisphere, I: New Zealand. Geogr. Ann. 18: 308-347.

Cranwell, Lucy M. Southern beech pollen. 1939. Rec. Auck. Inst. Mus. 2: 175-196.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1940. Pollen grains of the New Zealand conifers. New Zealand J. Sci. Tech. 22: 1-17.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1942. New Zealand pollen studies I. Key to the pollen grains of families and genera in the native flora. Rec. Auck. Inst. Mus. 2: 280-308.

Cranwell, Lucy M., Green, J. E. and Powell, A. W. B. 1943. Food is where you find it - a guide to emergency foods of the western Pacific. Auckland Institute and Museum, Auckland.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1953. New Zealand Pollen Studies - The Monocotyledons. Bulletin of the Aukland Institute and Museum No 3.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1959. Fossil pollen from Seymour Island, Antarctica. Nature 184: 1782-1785.

Cranwell, Lucy M., Harrington, H.J. and Speden, I.G. 1960. Lower Tertiary microfossils from McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Nature 186: 700-702.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1961. Subantarctic pollen and spores. 1. Lyallia of Kerguelen. Pollen et Spores 3: 11-20

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1962. A mid-Pacific coal and its microfossils. Pollen et Spores. 4:189-190.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1962. Antarctica: cradle or grave for Nothofagus. Pollen et Spores. 4:190-192.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1962. Endemism and isolation in the Three Kings Islands, New Zealand - with Notes on Pollen and Spore types of the Endemics. Records Auckland Institute and Museum 5-6: 215-232.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1963. The Hectorllaceae: pollen type and taxonomic speculation. Grana Palynologica 4: 195-202.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1963. Nothofagus: living and fossil pp. 387-400 In: J. L. Gressitt ed. Pacific Basin Biogeography. Honululu, Bishop Museum Press.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1964. Ancient Pacific Floras The Pollen Story. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1964. Antarctica: cradle or grave for its Nothofagus? P. 87-98 In. L. M.

Cranwell, Lucy M. (ed.) Ancient Pacific Floras: the pollen story. Honolulu, Univ. Hawaii Press.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1964. Extra-Antarctic correlations in the dating of erratic deposits and McMurdo Sound, Antarctica 8th Ann. Meeting Arizona Acad. Sci. 1964.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1964. Hystrichospheres as an aid to Antarctic dating with special reference to the recovery of Cordosphaeridium in erratics at McMurdo Sound. Grana Palynologica 5: 397-405.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1966. Senonian dinoflagellates and microspores from Snow Hill and Seymour Island. J. Arizona Acad Sci 4: 136.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1969. Palynological intimations of some pre-Oligocene Antarctic climates. IN: Palaeoecology of Africa and Antarctica SCAR 1978.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1971. Pollen. Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, McGraw-Hill Book Co., Inc.

Cranwell, Lucy M. 1981. The botany of Auckland. Auckland, N.Z. Auckland Institute and War Memorial Museum.

Wall, Arnold and Cranwell, Lucy M. 1936. The botany of Auckland. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland Institute and War Memorial Museum.

Ward, J. and Cranwell, Lucy M. 1993. Review of K. Kubitzki, the Families and Genera of Vascular Plants. Rev. Palaeobotany Palynology 77: 146-147.

Owen K. Davis, with contributions by Ewen Cameron, Benjamin Smith, and Satish Srivastava.

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