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Environment: On Display: History of Science Collection

Men & Women of the Movement

Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring (1962)

Franklin B. Hough, first Chief of the U.S. Division of Forestry (1881-1883)

George Perkins Marsh, environmentalist, diplomat, philosopher, and scholar

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, journalist and author of The Everglades: River of Grass

Viewing HoS Displays

Each month, the Linda Hall Library will be showcasing several historically significant works of environmental science in the History of Science Reading Room. If the Reading Room is not open, please speak to Reference Desk staff about gaining access to this display. 

HoS Display - April 2019

 

“Silent Spring I,” The New Yorker

June 16, 1962

This issue of The New Yorker includes the first appearance of what is today heralded as the most significant environmental writing of the 20th century – Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. In this essay, spread over three issues of the magazine, Carson examined the widespread pollution of the environment by pesticides and herbicides. This examination was met with strong opposition from chemical companies, but Carson’s work eventually led to the removal of several products, including DDT, from the market.

“On the Duty of Governments in the Preservation of Forests,” Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Maine, 1873

In this paper read before the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1873, Hough argued that the United States government should ensure the preservation of forests in its territory. He demonstrated that nations around the Mediterranean harmed their natural environment through their aggressive production of lumber. His work led to Hough’s appointment as the first chief of the United States Division of Forestry, predecessor of today’s Forest Service.

Man and Nature, or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action

New York, 1864 (cover shown from 2003 edition)
 
This was the first book to attack the American myth of superabundance and the inexhaustibility of the earth. It was, as historian and writer Lewis Mumford noted, "the fountainhead of the conservation movement," in regards to the particular importance of Marsh’s book. His work is complementary to Hough’s in that Marsh argued that deforestation could lead to desertification.

The Everglades: River of Grass

New York, 1947 (cover shown from 2017 edition)

Stoneman Douglas, a reporter for the Miami Herald, published this work on the Florida Everglades in 1947. The work, a description of Florida’s most well-known natural landmark, transformed public sentiment about the Everglades. Douglas recognized that the Everglades were dependent on the free flow of the Kissimmee River, and working from this realization she vociferously argued against the damming or alteration of that river or its associated lakes. This book reinforced public support for the creation of Everglades National Park, established the same year of the book’s publication.

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