Volney Jones

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Volney Hurt Jones, sixth child of Arthur and Ella Jones, was born April 30, 1903, in Comanche, Texas, and died December 12, 1982, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. married Joyce.  He was married in August 1933 in South Bend, Indiana, to Joyce Hedrick (born July 1, 1897 in Fort Recovery, Ohio, and died February 2, 1980, in Ann Arbor, Michigan). Volney and Joyce had one son, Alan Hedrick Jones, born April 18, 1937, in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Note: Story written by Alan in 1996 for the Arthur Jones Family Scrapbook.

Volney grew up in Texas, living in several different towns as his family moved in conjunction with his father’s service as an evangelical minister. He graduated from Groesbeck High School in 1923. After study at North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington, he completed his B.S. degree in agriculture at Texas A&M in 1929. He then took up study of ethnobotany, receiving his M.A. degree from the University of New Mexico in 1931, upon which he was invited to pursue further graduate study at the University of Michigan.

The move to Ann Arbor would prove to be permanent, as Volney’s graduate study in ethnobotany translated into a faculty position as a professor of anthropology and curator of ethnobotany at the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology. He taught undergraduate courses on American Indians and graduate seminars in ethnobotany. Over the course of his career was credited with being the first scholar to use plant materials in the study of man. He retired in 1968 but remained active in his museum work until his death. He was the author of numerous papers and articles in the field, and in 1978 a groundbreaking volume entitled The Nature and Status of Ethnobotany was published in his honor by the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology.

Joyce grew up in Fort Recovery, Ohio. She was initially trained as an elementary school teacher and then attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, where she received B.S. and M.A. degrees in botany in 1925 and 1928. She specialized in the study of lichens and took a position as curator with the University of Michigan Herbarium in 1929, where she worked full or part time until her retirement in 1959.

Volney and Joyce met at the University of Michigan and married in 1933. Their son Alan was born in 1937. In 1940 the family moved to a new home at 509 Keech Avenue in Ann Arbor, where Volney and Joyce would live out their lives.

The family experienced a fifteen-month absence from Ann Arbor during the Second World War, when Volney served the United States government as superintendent of a Cryptostegia Rubber Program plantation in Haiti from December 1942 to March 1944. Joyce used her training as a teacher to continue Alan’s education during that period.

In addition to their scholarly work at the University of Michigan, both Volney and Joyce had many community interests. Volney served as a Boy Scout and Parent-Teacher Association leader and was an avid University of Michigan sports fan. Joyce was a weaver whose work sold at art fairs and exhibits. She taught weaving for the Ann Arbor Public Schools and the Ann Arbor YM-YWCA and was one of the original organizers of the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair in which she participated until her death.

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