Organizations such as The Wilderness Society, Izaak Walton League of America, American Bison Society, American Rivers, and American Farmland Trust have designated the Denver Public Library as the official repository for their records. The Collection also includes the papers of individuals, including letters, memos, and writings of prominent preservationists, such as Aldo Leopold, Olaus Murie, Ira Gabrielson and Howard Zahniser. Other papers include those of such environmentalists as Arthur Carhart, Enos Mills, William Vogt, Wild Horse Annie (Velma Johnston), Charles Lathrop Pack, George Laycock, and Lois Crisler.
The collection was established in 1960 out of the private holdings of conservationist Arthur H. Carhart. He was the first landscape architect/recreational engineer hired by the U.S. Forest Service (Denver District, 1919), a writer of environmentally-themed pulp fiction novels, a writer of serious books and articles on forest health and management, and forever and always, an activist. Throughout his life, Carhart created a wide network of environmental compatriots, and it was the works of these activists, as well as his own, that served as the seed of today's Conservation Collection.
The Denver Public Library continues to acquire conservation materials. Other important acquisitions include: Hal Harrison's ornithological field notes and nature articles, the records of the Colorado Environmental Coalition, the records of the Alaska Coalition, and the papers of Harry Crandell, John F. Seiberling, Albert Henson and others who were notable actors in the passage and implementation of the Alaska Lands Act.
The book Collecting Nature: The American Environmental Movement and The Conservation Library by Andrew Kirk tells the history of this valued collection.
The Conservation Collection is now a nationally recognized research center for environmental history. Many writers use the archive in the creation of valuable books on the American environment. Some examples are:
Here are our online Archives Finding Aids.
Here is a complete list of the Library's Conservation Archives.
Cover image from The Destruction of the Bison: An Environmental History, 1750-1920 by Andrew Isenberg.
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Updated: June 25, 2013