Remembering Margaret Stones

Margaret Stones at work in the LSU Faculty Club, late 1970s. From University Archives in LSU’s Special Collections.

News of the death of internationally renowned botanical artist Margaret Stones on December 26, 2018 in her native Australia at age 98 sent ripples of grateful memories of her special relationship with LSU, the LSU Libraries, and Louisiana, spanning several decades. A major part of her life’s work is among the most treasured holdings of LSU Libraries’ Special Collections in the E. A. McIlhenny Natural History Collection at Hill Memorial Library. Described by a former curator as a collection of botanical art unmatched in any other state, the over two hundred exquisite watercolor drawings of Louisiana native plants created by Margaret Stones from 1976 to 1989 are known as the Native Flora of Louisiana Collection. The drawings, which combine detailed scientific accuracy with exceptional artistic beauty, constitute a remarkable record of Louisiana’s varied plant life. The Louisiana flora project was the third and final multiyear endeavor Stones undertook during her storied professional career.

Born in 1920 in Colac, Australia, Margaret Stones studied industrial art at Swinburne Technical College in Melbourne on a three-year scholarship, then attended night classes at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School while working as a commercial artist. With the outbreak of World War II, Stones entered nursing training, but in 1945 became a hospital patient herself after contracting pulmonary tuberculosis. Confined to bed for over a year, she occupied her time by making drawings of wildflowers brought to her by visitors. The drawings impressed her physician, and this led to contacts in Melbourne and resulted in Stones’ first solo exhibition, as well as opportunities to attend botany lectures at the University of Melbourne and participate in botanical expeditions documenting Australian flora.

Magnolia Macrophylla, or Big Leaf Magnolia, from Stones’ Native Flora of Louisiana.

Stones left Australia for England in 1951 to further develop her skills in botanical illustration, taking up employment as a freelance artist at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, where she remained until 2002. From 1958 to 1983, she was the principal contributing artist to Curtis’s Botanical Magazine, in which over 400 drawings by her were published. Valued by botanists for its scientific correctness, Stones’ work during her years at Kew included illustrations for scientific monographs as well as other projects. Her second major body of work, commissioned by Lord Talbot de Malahide, was issued from 1967 to 1978 in six volumes in The Endemic Flora of Tasmania, considered one of the most significant botanical publications of the 20th century. While at work on the Tasmanian flora, Stones received a visitor from Louisiana—an encounter that would lead into what the artist later called “the ten happiest years” of her life.

That visitor, LSU professor emerita of theater Gresdna Doty, on sabbatical in London at the time, was the catalyst that brought Stones to work in a part of the world unfamiliar to her until then. Doty proposed to Chancellor Paul Murrill that LSU commission Margaret Stones to create a portfolio of drawings of Louisiana native plants to commemorate the bicentennial of the United States – and LSU’s 50th year at its present campus – in 1976. With strong support from Murrill and others, private funds were raised to commission six watercolor drawings from Stones, who was immediately intrigued by the variety and beauty of Louisiana’s flora. Those first six watercolors were so enthusiastically received by the LSU community that Murrill offered Stones an expanded commission for 200 drawings, to be completed over ten years.

Quercus Virginiana, or the Southern Live Oak, from Native Flora of Louisiana.

A statewide committee solicited sponsorship from individuals and corporations, and Lowell Urbatsch of LSU’s botany faculty became the project’s principal scientific advisor. Urbatsch coordinated the selection and collection of plant specimens from throughout Louisiana for Stones to draw, and these were subsequently deposited in the LSU Herbarium as a permanent scientific record of the project, complementing the beautiful drawings that entered the Libraries’ McIlhenny Collection. Since she worked only from live specimens Stones made regular trips to Baton Rouge each year and worked in a suite provided for her in the LSU Faculty Club. She often joined in local plant collecting excursions, making lasting friendships with some of the participants. The Louisiana flora project with Margaret Stones not only generated considerable public interest, but also expanded botanical knowledge by documenting a number of rare and endangered plants never illustrated before. In recognition of her outstanding work, LSU awarded Stones an honorary doctorate in 1986 and a University Medal in 1992.

LSU Press first published the Stones drawings in book form in 1991, in Flora of Louisiana. Selected drawings from the Louisiana flora collection have been exhibited in Hill Memorial Library, as well as other venues in Louisiana. Some of Stones’ watercolors also have been loaned for exhibitions at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, and to museums in England, Scotland, and Australia. The drawings in the Native Flora of Louisiana Collection are a marvelous record of the state’s natural heritage as well as an artistic treasure, which community groups, LSU visitors, and classes in botany, landscape architecture, and art are welcomed into Hill Memorial Library to view by appointment. In November 2018, LSU Press issued a much-anticipated full-color folio edition of the Stones watercolors under the title Native Flora of Louisiana. Margaret Stones received a copy of the new book before her death, and was able to enjoy revisiting those ten happiest years of her life during which she worked on the Louisiana drawings. It was surely a gratifying end to her long and amazing journey.

There is a sampling of Ms. Stones’ work for display in the Hill Memorial Library’s lecture hall in commemoration of her passing. Please stop by to see a small part of her legacy and remember her full and productive life. The exhibition will run through the end of February 2019.

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Recent faculty publications

2021

O’Neill, Brittany. “Do They Know It When They See It?: Natural Language Preferences of Undergraduate Students for Library Resources,” College & Undergraduate Libraries. Volume 28, Issue 2 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1080/10691316.2021.1920535

O’Neill, Brittany and Rebecca Kelley. “Delivering Bad News: Crisis Communication Methods in Academic Libraries,” College & Research Libraries, Volume 82, Issue 3 (May 2021). https://doi.org/10.5860/crl.82.3.310

Connel, Ruth Sara; Lisa C. Wallis; David Comeaux. “The Impact of COVID-19 on the Use of Academic Library Resources,” Information Technology and Libraries. Volume 40, Issue 2 (2021). https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v40i2.12629

O’Neill, B. (2021).”Three-layer primary source dip: Introducing history students to primary source research through active learning.” In The teaching with primary sources cookbook, edited by J. M. Porterfield, 16-18. Association of College & Research Libraries, 2021.

2020 

Blessinger, Kelly and Dave Comeaux. “User Experience with a New Public Interface for an Integrated Library System,” Information Technology in Libraries. Volume 39, Issue 1. https://doi.org/10.6017/ital.v39i1.11607

Cramer, Jennifer A. “First, Do No Harm”: Tread Carefully Where Oral History, Trauma, and Current Crises Intersect,” The Oral History Review, 47:2 (2020): 203-213, DOI: 10.1080/00940798.2020.1793679

Diamond, Tom, ed. The Academic Librarian in the Digital Age: Essays on Changing Roles and Responsibilities. McFarland, 2020.

Kelley, Rebecca and Mitch Fontenot. “Serving our Student Veterans in Louisiana,” Louisiana Libraries. Volume 82, Issue 2 (Spring 2020).

Kuyper-Rushing, Lois.A Thematic Index of Works by Eugene Bozza, A-R Editions, 2020.

Lounsberry, Megan. “Troubleshooting electronic resources from an ILL perspective,” Technical Services Quarterly, Volume 37, Issue 3.
https://doi.org/10.1080/07317131.2020.1768699

McDonald, Ebony. “2020 Regina Medal Recipient Christopher Paul Curtis,” Catholic Library World. 

Miles, John David.  “James Harrison and the Tensas Troubles of 1878,” Civil War Book Review: Volume 22, Issue 1 (Winter 2020).

Morgan, Randa Lopez. 2020. “Supporting Student Wellness and Success through the LSU Libraries Relaxation Room.Journal of Library Outreach and Engagement v. 1, no. 1: 104–115.

2019

Batte, Elizabeth; David Dunaway; Emily Frank; Sarah Mazur; and Laurie Phillips. “LOUIS Membership with Open Textbook Network Brings Incentive for Faculty OER Advocacy on Campuses,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Borchardt, Rachel; Polly Boruff-Jones; Sigrid Kelsey; and Jennifer Matthews, “A Proposed Framework for the Evaluation of Academic Librarian Scholarship” (2019). Proceedings of the Charleston Library Conference.

Comeaux, Dave;  Emily Frank; and Mike Waugh. “Supporting Student Success: E-books as Course Materials,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Dunaway, David. “Bibliometrics for Faculty Evaluation: A Stastical Comparison of h-indexes Generated Using Google Scholar and Web of Science Data,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 3 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Haber, Natalie, Melissa Cornwell, & Andrea Hebert. “This worksheet works: Making the DLS Standards work for you,” College & Research Libraries News. 

Hawk, Amanda K. “Implementing Standardized Statistical Measures and Metrics for Public Services in Archival Repositories and Special Collections Libraries,” Proceedings of the 2018 Library Assessment Conference, (Association of Research Libraries, 2019): 836-843. https://doi.org/10.29242/lac.2018.78

Hebert, Andrea and Jodi Duet. “’I’m Really Confident I Can Find the Exact IKEA Pillow’: A Qualitative Look at the Search Self-Efficacy of Graduating MLIS Students,” Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian. https://doi.org/10.1080/01639269.2017.1690891.

Lounsberry, Megan. “No Textbooks Allowed! (Unless You’re a Graduate Student!): Louisiana State University Pilots an ILL Textbook Service. Journal of Interlibrary Loan, Document Delivery & Electronic Reserve, 28 (3/4): 61–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/1072303X.2019.1676862

Miles, John David. “Colfax, Kate Grant, and the Domestication of Reconstruction’s Violence,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 2 (Spring 2019).

Miles, John David. “The Loyalty of West Point’s Graduates Debated,” Civil War Book Review. Volume 21, Issue 1 (Winter 2019).

Miller, Marty. “Curriculum, Departmental, and Faculty Mapping in the Visual Arts Department,” Art Documentation, Volume 38, Issue 1 (March 2019): 159-173.

Morgan, Randa L. “Libraries and Gardens: Growing Together.” Catholic Library World, Volume 90, Issue 1 (September 2019): 68.

O’Neill, Brittany; and  Allen LeBlanc. “Evaluating Trends in Instruction Scheduling Management: A Survey of Louisiana’s Academic Libraries,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “The Moon Belongs to Everyone:  ResearchGate and Subscription Databases Compared.”  Louisiana Libraries. Volume 81, Issue 3, (Winter 2019).

Russo, Michael, “Information Literacy through Service Learning” in Library Collaborations and Community Partnerships: Enhancing Health and Quality of Life.  Fannie M. Cox, Henry R. Cunningham, and Vickie Hines-Martin, eds., 2019.

Simms, Sarah; Hayley Johnson. “Hidden in Plain Sight,” 64 Parishes (Magazine of the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities). Issue 4 (Summer 2019). https://64parishes.org/hidden-in-plain-sight.

Simms, S., & Johnson, H. Subtle activism: Using the library exhibit as a social justice tool, Alexandria, Volume 29, Issue 1-2 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1177/0955749019876119.

Ziegler, Scott; and Cara Key. “More Than a Pretty Interface: The Louisiana Digital Library as a Data Hub,” CODEX: Journal of the Louisiana Chapter of the ACRL. Volume 5, Issue 2 (Fall/Winter 2019).

Ziegler, S.L. “Digitization Selection Criteria as Anti-Racist Action,” Code4Lib Journal. Issue 45 (2019). https://journal.code4lib.org/articles/14667

Ziegler, S.L. and Steve Martin. “A Hidden Gem Becomes a Fertile Mining Ground: Historic Prison Admission Books and Data-Driven Digital Projects,” The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography Volume 143, Issue 3 (October 2019): 363-373.

2018

Hebert, Andrea. “Information Literacy Skills of First-Year Library and Information Science Graduate Students: An Exploratory Study,” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice Volume 13, Issue 3 (September 2018).

Miller, Marty. “Sacred vs. Profane in The Great War: A Neutral’s Indictment: Louis Raemaekers’s Use of Religious Imagery in Adoration of the Magi and Our Lady of Antwerp.” Catholic Library World, vol. 89, no. 1, Sept. 2018, pp. 20–32.

Rasmussen, Hans. “The Life and Death of Raquette in Nineteenth-Century New Orleans,” Sport History Review 49 (May 2018): 23-38.

Wilder, Stanley. “Delayed Retirements and the Youth Movement among ARL Library Professionals,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Hiring and Staffing Trends in ARL Libraries,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Wilder, Stanley. “Selected Demographic Trends in the ARL Professional Population,” Research Library Issues, no. 295 (2018).

Ziegler, Scott; and Richard Shrake. “PAL: Toward a Recommendation System for Manuscripts,” Information Technology and Libraries, Vol. 37, No. 3 (2018).

2017

Caminita, C.; Cook, M.; and Paster, A. (2017). Thirty years of preserving, discovering, and accessing U.S. agricultural information: Past progress and current challenges. Library Trends, 65(3), 293-315.

Dauterive, Sarah; John Bourgeois; and Sarah Simms. “How little is too little? An examination of information literacy instruction duration for freshmen.” Journal of Information Literacy, 11.1 (2017): 204-219.

Fontenot, Mitch; Emily Frank; and Andrea Hebert. “Going Where the Users Are: Three Variations on a Theme,” Louisiana Libraries, Fall 2017.

Hawk, Amanda K. “Highflying Crowdfunding: Creating a Successful Partnership with a Campus Donor,” Archival Outlook, July/August 2017: 12-13, 19. https://www.bluetoad.com/publication/?i=422988.

Hebert, Andrea; and Marty Miller. (2017). Using FSA-OWI photographs to teach information and visual literacy. Louisiana Libraries, 79(3), 19–25.

Johnson, Hayley. “#NoDAPL: Social Media, Empowerment, and Civic Participation at Standing Rock,” Library Trends, Fall 2017.

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