#WomensHistoryMonth/#TBT: Florence Murdoch

Florence Murdoch was born June 14, 1887 in Lakewood NY to James Riley Murdoch and Florence Carlisle Murdoch. Although she was born in Lakewood NY, she lived her entire life in Cincinnati OH.

Newspaper article w/photo of Florence Murdoch and Crayon Drawings “Magniflora Americana”
Newspaper article

She was a member of the American Artists Professional League, the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati, and the Cincinnati Crafters Club.

She exhibited annually in the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati’s annual art show for many, many years. She had 16 solo shows between 1942-1960, including at the New York Botanical Gardens (1942), Ohio State Museum (1945), Missouri Botanical Gardens (1955), Boston Museum of Science (1956), and Dayton Museum of Natural History (1960).

Florence Murdoch is listed in Who’s Who in American Art (Gilbert, 1947 & 1959), Dictionary of Women Artists: An International Dictionary of Women Artists Born Before 1900 (Petteys, 1985), and Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 (Falk, 1999). She has an illustrated article in the January 1932 issue American Magazine of Art titled “Trailing the Bestiaries”.
In 1957, she was awarded an Ohioana Library Award for her drawings in an historical calendar.

Professionally, she taught art and crafts at various private schools and camps, including several years as art instructor at Oakhurst Collegiate School in Cincinnati, and as a crafts instructor at Camp Boulder Point in Inlet NY. She was also the organizer and director of the Junior Artist Clubs in Cincinnati.

Although she was known as a landscape painter in oils later in life, earlier on, she specialized in watercolors, floral crayon drawings, and the restoration of art objects. Her “Magniflora Americana” (attached photo), a series of crayon drawings of tiny native flowers drawn ten times life size, was widely exhibited and made her name known. It was also displayed at the Cincinnati New Church in April 1962. Some of the flowers in this series were so small that she viewed them through a 30X microscope while she painted.

Florence Murdoch worked alongside her mother for over 30 years to preserve Cedar Bog in Urbana OH. In 1942, six years after her mother’s death, Cedar Bog Nature Preserve became the first nature preserve in Ohio to be purchased with state funds. It is a National Natural Landmark, and ranks the highest of any
site in Ohio on the Floristic Diversity Index for its wide variety of plant species. The “Florence Murdoch Papers” collection at the Ohio History Connection, contains the two women’s correspondence, newspaper clippings, and documents about their historic work to preserve this site.

Information compiled by Mary Ann Fischer

References: https://remarkableohio.org/index.php?/category/172

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