elawrence.jpgElizabeth Atwood Lawrence, one of the only female veterinary-anthropologists in America, died on Nov. 11 from multiple myeloma. She was 74.
Lawrence graduated from Mount Holyoke College with an English degree, then attended the University of Pennsylvania to obtain a doctorate in veterinary medicine. As one of the few women allowed to study at the school in the 1950s, Lawrence often faced discrimination. Female students were even barred from going on farm calls with practitioners.
“Men in every position at the school made it clear that women did not belong, that we should be at home raising families and that we were unsuited to handling and treating animals,” Lawrence once stated. Despite this chauvinistic environment, she also earned a doctorate in anthropology.
Lawrence then traveled to all seven continents to examine the interdependence of humans and animals. She studied the bond between the Crow Indians and their horses, the travel habits of the wandering albatross in Antarctica and the ancient European tradition of the wren hunt.
When she wasn’t in the field, Lawrence ran her own animal hospital. She also raised a family and published five books on human-animal relationships. From 1979 to 1999, she taught veterinary medicine at Tufts University.
Lawrence received numerous awards during her career, including the first International Distinguished Scholar Award from the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations, The American Veterinary History Society’s Distinguished Service Award and the American Veterinary Medical Association’s Outstanding Woman Veterinarian of the Year award.