Profesor Hanna Czeczottowa (1888–1982) i Pracownia Paleobotaniki Muzeum Ziemi PAN w Warszawie

Krystyna Juchniewicz


ProfessorHanna Czeczott and the Palaeobotanical Department of the Museum of the Earth of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.
A b s t r a c t. Hanna Czeczott, née Peretiatkowicz, studied at the universities of Warsaw and Sankt Petersburg. In 1910, she married Professor Henryk Czeczott. In 1913–1925, accompanying his scientific travels to North America, Asia and Macronesia, she carried out her own botanical investigations and observations, mainly in the field of phytosociology and dendrology. In 1922, when her husband got a chair at the Academia of Mining and Metallurgy in Kraków, Hanna Czeczott continued her investigations at the Botanical Institute of the Jagiellonian University (with no employment). After her husband’s death, in 1931, she settled down in Warsaw and continued her research at the Department of Plant Taxonomy and Geography of the Botanical Institute of Warsaw University, being financially independent but without formal employment. During these years she published several papers in the field of plant taxonomy, variability and geography, gave lectures at international conferences (i.e. during the Botanical Congress in Cambridge in 1930, in Amsterdam in 1935, and Paris in 1954) and made several scientific travels in order to visit the most important botanical museums or institutions in western and southern Europe. In 1933–1939, she carried out dendrological investigations for the Scientific Institute of State Forests. Her interest in palaeobotany was initiated in the 1930s when she recognized fossil alder among the impressions of the Miocene leaves identified as beech (Fagus feroniae Unger). In 1937, on the recommendation of the State Geological Institute, she collected the leaf flora in Zaleoece near Wioeniowiec and since that time she devoted herself to palaeobotanical investigations. In the conflagration of Warsaw during World War II, many manuscripts of her works and notes were lost, as well as her library and the greater part of herbaria collected during the expeditions undertaken together with her husband. After the war, in the newly created Museum of the Earth (since 1959 included in the Polish Academy of Sciences), she organized the palaeobotanical laboratory devoted to the study of Tertiary flora. Since 1948, the Miocene flora from the mine in Turów was studied under her leadership and the material was collected in the mine area during several field works carried out together with her assistants. The last expedition to Turów, in order to collect new material, was undertaken in 1974, when Professor Hanna Czeczott was 86 years old. Miocene flora from Turów was studied by several specialists-palaeobotanists, but Professor Czeczott was the leader and the main participant of these investigations. The results of these investigations were published, mostly under her editorship, in the Prace Muzeum Ziemi, and provided new important data concerning the origin of brown coal from Turów, based on the preserved plant remains – tree trunks, fruits, seeds, leaves, fungi and mosses.The vegetation of the past geological periods fascinated Professor Czeczott; due to her enthusiasm nobody remained indifferent, from her assistants to the Management of the Brown Coal Mine in Turów and individual miners, which is evidenced by her title of Honourable Miner of Turów and gold badge (distinction award) Meritorious Worker of Turów. Another passion of Professor Czeczott was concentrated on amber, mainly on the origin of Baltic amber, and this could later contribute to the development of amber studies at the Museum of the Earth, Polish Academy of Sciences. In 1955, Hanna Czeczott got the title of Associate Professor. Being retired, she worked intensely at the Museum of the Earth to the last years. She was honoured with several awards: Medal of the 10th Anniversary of People’s Poland, Knight’s and Commandor’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta. Professor Hanna Czeczott deceased in Warsaw in 1982.

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