Lucy Say PA conservation figure

Lucy Say

October 14, 1801 - November 15, 1886

Lucy Say was born in New London, Connecticut and was one of ten children. Little is known about her early schooling, but she did attend a Pestalozzian girls’ school in Philadelphia. She studied art there, and was taught to draw by French artist Charles Alexandre Lesueur. She was also a pupil of John James Audubon.

She met her husband, Thomas Say, while at this school, and later they moved to a utopian socialist community in New Harmon, Indiana with other naturalists and artists. Thomas spent many years going on expeditions, while Lucy taught the children in the community. After his death, Lucy began illustrating and coloring his monochromatic works. Lucy Say drew 66 out of the 68 shells in her husband’s book, American Conchology. She assisted with three volumes on insects in America and six volumes on shellfish in North America.

On October 26, 1841 she was the first woman ever to be an elected member of the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. Read more about her project and view some of the drawings here. (