Emma Lewis Lipps


The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Herbarium (NCU) curates about 20 vascular plant specimens collected by Dr. Lipps, who usually signed labels as “Lewis Lipps”.  Other herbaria curating vascular specimens collected by Dr. Lipps include Arkansas Tech University (APCR), Auburn University Museum of Natural History (AUA), Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT, SMU, VDB), Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CM), Clemson University (CLEMS), Eastern Kentucky University (EKY), Georgia Southern University (GAS), Harvard University Herbaria (GH), Kent State University (KE), Lousiana State University (LSU and NO), Marshall University (MUHW), Missouri Botanical Garden (MO), North Carolina State University (NCSC), Troy University (TROY), University of Alabama (UNA), University of Arizona (ARIZ), University of Georgia (GA), University of Louisiana at Lafayette (LAF), University of Michigan (MICH), University of Mississippi (MISS), University of South Florida (USF), University of Tennessee (TENN), University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UCHT), University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), University of Vermont (VT), University of Wisconsin (WIS), West Virginia Wesleyan College (WVW), and William & Mary (WILLI).

Dr. Emma Lewis Lipps (1919-1996) was a botanist at Shorter College for more than forty year. Photo courtesy of Find A Grave, Memorial ID 91332052.

“Emma Lewis Lipps was born in Alexandria, Virginia on February 8, 1919 and died in Rome, Georgia on July 19, 1996,” according to Beth Gibbons of the Shorter College Archives.2  Her parents were William Lewis Lipps (1884-1974) and Emma A. Truslow Lipps (1883-1980).3   “Dr. Lipps was a professor of Biology at Shorter College in Rome for more than forty years. Previously, she graduated from Wesleyan College, worked in the medical school in Augusta, Georgia, and taught at Agnes Scott College. She earned her masters degree from Emory University and her PhD from the University of Tennessee.

During her forty plus years at Shorter College, the main body of her work came to fruition. Her career was dedicated to ecological interests and promoting the well being of the Earth. Many of her endeavors in the field of ecology were visionary and have since become part of everyday concerns about the environment.

One area of local interest for Dr. Lipps and her students was the Marshall Forest, a tract of land located in Floyd County, Georgia that had never been cleared for cultivation. Dr. Lipps used the forest as a natural lab for teaching biology and a great ecological resource. To quote Dr. Lipps in reference to Marshall Forest, “it will provide answers to questions we are not yet able to ask.” In 1979, the National Council of State Garden Clubs honored her for 25 years of work on behalf of the Marshall Forest.

Dr. Lipps’ ecological interests are also reflected in her geological work at Ladd’s Quarry in Bartow County, Georgia. A report in The Smithsonian Torch of June 1968 announced the discovery on this site of perhaps the largest Devonian fossil fauna ever unearthed in the Southeast. In fact, Dr. Lipps and her students sent from Ladd’s Quarry enough fossil specimens to fill several drawers in the workroom desks of the Smithsonian.

Through the scope of her distinguished career, Dr. Lipps sought to increase awareness of our dependency on the Earth’s resources and to encourage our acceptance of shared responsibility for its upkeep. With a combination of energy, enthusiasm, perseverance, and a few eccentricities, Dr. Lipps became a leader and legend in her field. Her students, many of whom are themselves leaders in many fields, will carry on her torch for generations to come.” 2

Dr. Lipps is buried in the Myrtle Hill Cemetery in Rome, Georgia.3

Dr. Emma Lewis Lipps. Photo courtesy of Shorter College Archives.

Lipps, Emma Lewis.  1966.  Plant communities of a portion of Flloyd County, Georgia — Especially the Marshall Forest.  Doctoral Thesis, University of Tennessee.
Lipps, E. L. and H. R. De Selm.  1969.  The vascular flora of the Marshall Forest, Rome, Georgia.  Castanea 34 (4):  414-432.  https://www.jstor.org/stable/4032588

1.  SERNEC Data Portal. 2022. http//:sernecportal.org/index.php. Accessed on May 31.
2.  Personal communication, Beth Gibbons, Assistant to the Director of Museum and Archives, Shorter College, to McCormick.
Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/91332052/emma-lewis-lipps : accessed 31 May 2022), memorial page for Dr Emma Lewis Lipps (8 Feb 1919–19 Jul 1996), Find a Grave Memorial ID 91332052, citing Myrtle Hill Cemetery, Rome, Floyd County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Belle (contributor 47168949) .