Viola S. Schantz, a zoologist who served as curator of the large North American mammal collection at the National Museum of Natural History, died Thursday of a blood clot in the lungs at the Bethesda. Silver Spring Retirement and Nursing Center. She was 81.

Miss Schantz worked as a scientist for the federal government here for 43 years, first for the biological survey of the Department of Agriculture and later for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which was incharge of the mammal collection until it became part of the Smithsonian Institution.

At the National History Museum at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, she was responsible for the care and arrangement of over 200,000 skins, skulls, and skeletons of mammals, ranging from 3-inch shrew to a 1,5000-pound brown bear. She was one of the few women ever to hold such a post in a scientific museum, and also was the first woman to serve as an officer of the American Society of Mammologists, for which she was treasurer and board member for 24 years.

Born in Quakertown, Pa., Miss Schantz was a graduate of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, and taught public school in Pennsylvania for five years before coming to Washington in 1918. She lived in the District until three years ago, when she moved to the nursing home in Montgomery County. She retired in 1961.

During the 1930s, she was president of the D.C. Federation of the National Federation of Federal Employees.

She also was a past matron of Chapter 39, Order of the Eastern Star, and belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Soroptimist Internationa, and the National League of American Pen Women.

She was a longtime member of Luther Place Memorial Church here.

Surviving are three brothers, Wilmer, of Silver Spring, Paul, of Ephreta, Pa., and Harold, of Hershey, Pa., and three sisters, Elsie Thompson, of Elizabethtown, Pa., Arvilla Baus, of Hopkinsville, Ky., and Marie Thomas, of Mechanicsburg, Pa.