Front Range Seed Analysts
1992 Seed Forum Volume 6 Number 4
(Click here to find out who are the Anna Lute Award Winners.)
ANNA MAUDE LUTE
Seed analyst, agrostologist, taxonomist, mentor, teacher, researcher, author, braille expert... Where does a biographer begin with such an extraordinary woman? Perhaps with a brief chronology:
*Born on September 1 in Julesburg, Colorado
*Educated in Nebraska schools
1902-1906 *Attended University of Nebraska and received A.B. and
B.S degrees in German and General Science.
1907-1910 *Held a fellowship in educational psychology and then received an assistantship in
botany under the guidance of Dr. F. E. Clements, Dr. C. E. Bessey and Dr. John
M. Coulter. Dr. Bessey encouraged Anna Maude Lute to make seed analysisher
1910 *Joined the staff of the USDA Division of Seed Investigations in Maryland.
1911-1916 *Served as seed analyst in the co-operative USDA seed laboratory at Berkeley,
1917-1919 *Supervisor of the co-operative USDA seed laboratory at Purdue, West Lafayette,
1920-1941 *Chief seed analyst in charge of the seed laboratory of the Agricultural Experiment
Station in Fort Collins, Colorado.
*Published many papers about seeds.
*Taught agrostology and systematic botany for the botany department at
Colorado Agricultural College (now CSU).
*Served as AOSA president in 1925.
*Invited to Europe twice (attended once in 1935) as an ISTA delegate.
*Became first president of the American Association of University Women.
*Held membership in many scholarly and scientific associations including: Phi Kappa
Phi, Sigma Xi, Association for the Advancement of Science, Botanical Society of
America, Colorado-Wyoming Academy of Science.
1941 *Retired from her duties at the Colorado Seed Laboratory.
1941-1958 *Worked with a braille organization and served as treasurer of the women's
organization of her church (in Denver.)
1958 *Died July 28, 1958 of complications from cancer.
It is clear
from this chronology that Anna Maude Lute was a
dedicated and highly motivated professional. Her research encompassed diverse interests such as hard seeds, longevity, dormancy-breaking methods, causes of low germination, native grass seed quality, seed identification, and standardization of methods. Her agrostology course at CSU was widely acclaimed and she was friends with Agnes Chase, the famous illustrator for A. S. Hitchcock's Manual of the Grasses of the United States.
"She was my mentor and my friend," said Mildred Thornton, predecessor
of Dr. Arnold Larsen at the Colorado Seed Laboratory. "Everyone who knew
her called her 'Anna Maude'. Her opinion was tops with colleagues nationally
and internationally. She treated her students like family."
Accounts of her retirement mention her "sparkling humor," "brilliant mind," "exceptional efficiency," and her "enviable reputation for accuracy and dependability."
These excerpts from her 1925 AOSA President's Address clearly illustrate her clarity of purpose for the seed analysis profession.
"Understanding can only be gained by that familiarity which is born of long contact with a problem. It seems to me then, that one of our greatest immediate needs is to make of the seed laboratory a fit place for minds to live in, not to sleep or die in.
"My plea then is that we may make of seed laboratories better environment for seed analysts... We constantly have thrust upon us the attitude of others that we spend our days counting seeds. ... The general attitude of these students (who stop by from the University) is 'don't you ever tire of counting seeds?' This attitude is not confined to students alone, it is very general among professors and people at large. As seed analysts, we occupy a position of peculiar isolation because our field is outside of the usual lines of education, people know so little of it that they do not comprehend its fascination .... unless we single them out and give them an idea as to what we really do...
"I speak as one who enjoys every phase of the seed work, as one who resents being called upon to give up any phase of the seed work in order to help out in other phases of botany. If I am inclined to identification problems I would rather work out the identity of an unknown seed than of an unknown flower; if I feel like making a botanical key I should very much rather speculate on the taxonomic values in seeds than in flowers; if I am in a mood of pathological interest I had very much rather think of seed borne diseases and of seed treatment than of diseases that live over in the soil, and of spraying the leaves. When I feel in a physiological mood I had rather work on dormant seeds than on dormant branches, on storage seeds than on storage roots, on respiration of seeds than respiration of leaves. In fact, I speak as one who enjoys the phase of the work on seeds but who also loves the poetry."
These passages seem to speak to us as eloquently today as they did to analysts 67 years ago. Anna Maude left a legacy of devotion to her work and to tho- people who shared her fascination with seed science.
Compiled by Annette Logan
Special thanks go to Mrs. Mildred Thornton for sharing memories and to Dr. Arnold Larsen for sharing files and photographs.
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