In the 1930s, what began as a botanical research trip propelled two scientist sisters from Cincinnati into the fight to save the virgin forest of eastern Kentucky, and forever changed the history of ecological science and modern environmental conservation.

Drawing on both storytelling and theatrical traditions, this one-woman one-act explores the lives of the first two women to earn PhDs at the University of Cincinnati--Dr. E. Lucy Braun (1889-1971) and her sister Annette (1884-1978)-- and the life-changing role that a 1934 research trip to Lynn Fork in eastern Kentucky had on the two middle-aged sisters in the second half of their lives: shaping both the trajectory of their ground-breaking research in ecological science and forestry, and their pioneering roles in the history of modern environmental conservation and activism.

  • Throughout the 30s and 40s the mountain residents granted the “quare” spinster sisters access to their homesteads and forests in and around Pine Mountain and Black Mountain to conduct research, forming the basis of Lucy’s masterwork—Deciduous Forests of Eastern North America (1950)—a book of such scientific importance that it has never been out of print in the 60-plus years since its release. What the sisters learned in their fight to save Lynn Fork forest also shaped the early conservation movement, both in effective use of science in community and political organizing and the development of land trusts as a tool of environmental preservation.

Playwright and performer Dr. Alice Jones is an environmental geographer who has studied the relationship between land use and water quality in eastern Kentucky communities for nearly 20 years. She is also a life-long thespian with many acting credits in community and regional theater. “Sisters” draws together three of her dearest loves: strong and interesting women; the forests of Appalachian Kentucky; and theater as an expression of both creative and intellectual passion.