Collection on Rachel Carson 1910 - 1964

Chatham University

Summary Information

Repository
Chatham University
Title
Collection on Rachel Carson
Creator
Chatham University.
Collection Number
RG11.2018.004
Date [bulk]
Bulk, 1925-1964
Date [inclusive]
1910-1964
Extent
3.0 boxes

Preferred Citation:

Collection on Rachel Carson, 1910-1964, RG11.2018.004

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative History:

Rachel Carson, biologist and author of several highly influential books on marine biology and the effect of pesticides on the environment, is credited with initiating the modern environmental movement. The youngest of three children, Rachel was born on May 27, 1907 to Maria and Robert Carson and she spent much of her childhood on her family’s 65-acre farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania, just north of Pittsburgh. Exhibiting an early interest in reading and writing, she published her first story, titled “A Battle in the Clouds,” in the September 1918 issue of St. Nicholas Magazine. She attended public school in Springdale and graduated from nearby Parnassus High School in 1925.

Though awarded a tuition scholarship based on academic achievement and a scholarship from the State Department of Instruction, the Carson family’s financial sacrifices—including selling plots of land, family heirlooms, and farm produce—barely covered the cost of attendance at the Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) and Rachel’s attendance was achieved through loans and assistance by anonymous donors. Rachel began school as an English major and, after much discussion with faculty members including Grace Croff and Mary Scott Skinker, switched to Biology in her Junior year. A studious member of the college community, she contributed regularly to the student newspaper, founded the Science Club, and was a member of the honorary hockey team. She graduated in Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Science in 1929 and a scholarship to study for a Masters in Zoology at Johns Hopkins University. She received her M.S. from Johns Hopkins in 1932 and spent summers working as a researcher at Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory in Massachusetts. Though she pursued a doctorate degree from Johns Hopkins, she dropped out of the program in 1934 in large part due to her family’s ongoing financial struggles. During this period, Carson held teaching positions at Johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland and, beginning in 1935, wrote radio scripts for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and articles for the Baltimore Sun.

In 1936, when she accepted a position as a junior aquatic biologist with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and, shortly after from Baltimore County, Maryland to Silver Spring to better accommodate her mother and two recently-bereaved nieces. In 1937, an article originally intended for publication with the Bureau of Fisheries titled “Undersea” was published in Atlantic Monthly. Her first book, Under the Sea Wind, was published in 1941. Although fifteen magazines rejected the material that would later be published as The Sea Around Us, Wallace Shawn of the New Yorker published it in a serialized version. The Sea Around Us became a bestseller and winner of the National Book Award. Under the Sea Wind was republished soon after and quickly became a bestseller, as well.

In 1952, the success of her writing career allowed Rachel to retire from the Bureau of Fisheries, where she had been promoted, first as an information specialist and then as Chief Editor of Publications. On May 26, 1952 PCW presented Rachel with an honorary Doctor of Literature.

After the publication of her next book The Edge of the Sea, Rachel Carson began to focus her attention on the wide use of pesticides after World War II. She spent four and a half years researching material for her book Silent Spring. The book, first serialized in the New Yorker, caused uproar. Though the book and Carson were attacked by the chemical industry, Silent Spring had a profound effect on the public and government. President John F. Kennedy, Jr. formed a special government group to investigate the use and control of pesticides under the direction of the President's Science Advisory Committee. Carson testified before Congress in 1963 about new policies to protect the environment and the population. Honors bestowed upon the book include the Audubon Medal from the National Audubon Society, the Cullum Geographical Medal from the American Geographical Society, the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and a Carey-Thomas Honorable Mention for the most distinguished publication of 1962. DDT, a pesticide discussed in the book was banned in the United States in 1974.

Rachel Carson died at her home in Silver Spring, Maryland after a long battle with breast cancer on April 14, 1964. As a writer, environmentalist, and crusader, Carson is considered one of the most influential people of the century.

Return to Table of Contents »


Scope and Contents

The Collection on Rachel Carson documents activities of Chatham University to collect, research, and promote the work and successes of Rachel Carson following her graduation from Pennsylvania College for Women (now Chatham University) in 1929. The collection includes copies of many, though not all, published writings by Rachel Carson dating from her years as a student at Pennsylvania College for Women (P.C.W.) and continuing throughout her career as a professional writer. The collection also includes a copy of Rachel Carson’s student transcript, a book identified as belonging to Rachel Carson, and a series of correspondence between Rachel Carson and the Treasurer of P.C.W. between 1929 and 1934 relating to Rachel Carson’s debt to the school and also between P.C.W. and real estate agents in Pittsburgh and Springdale, PA relating to Carson family property used as collateral for Rachel Carson’s school loans.

Much of the collection consists of records, brochures, flyers, photocopies, clippings, and correspondence related to Chatham College’s (now Chatham University) efforts to recognize the professional achievements of Rachel Carson after the publication of The Sea Around Us. These materials include correspondence between Chatham College President Edward Eddy and Rachel Carson about plans to host a campus visit by Rachel Carson as part of a new “Chatham Visitors” program and several campus efforts to honor Rachel Carson’s legacy after her death in 1964, including public programs in 1987 and 1994 and more. The collection also includes photocopies and clippings collected and maintained by Chatham University Alumni Office featuring Rachel Carson.

The collection also includes photographs and copies of photographs of Rachel Carson during her childhood, college years, and during the later years of her life.

Return to Table of Contents »


Arrangement of Materials:

The Collection on Rachel Carson is arranged into 6 Series:

Series 1: Essays and Articles by Rachel Carson, 1925 – 1963, bulk 1925 – 1928

Series 1 contains the writings by Rachel Carson, including her high school thesis, college essays, student newspaper articles, one article that appeared in the Pittsburgh Press in 1963, and editions of Silent Spring, Under the Sea Wind, The Rocky Coast, Edge of the Sea Wind, etc in English and several other languages. Of particular note among Rachel Carson’s student writing is her essay, “Master of the Ship’s Light” for which she was awarded the Omega prize. Items in this series are copies compiled for ease of access and original publications appearing in the campus publications The Arrow and The Englicode are available in the related Campus Publications Collections. Materials are ordered chronologically, with the books using the most recent copyright date.

Series 2: Rachel Carson Student Records, 1926 – 1944

Series 2 is comprised of student records about Rachel Carson at Chatham, including a copy of her transcript and correspondence relating to tuition payments. This correspondence, which dates from 1928 to 1944, addresses repayment of a tuition loan made to Rachel Carson by the school and for which her family used land they owned near Pittsburgh as collateral. The letters detail the financial struggles of the Carson family during the Great Depression and Rachel Carson’s role as the sole family provider. Rachel Carson’s loan repayment was completed in the 1940s. Also included is an edition of The Æneid of Virgil with inscription “Rachel Louise Carson” donated by Alden M. Rollins.

Series 3: Chatham Recognition of Rachel Carson, 1925- 1995 (bulk 1952-1995)

Series 3 includes documentation of Chatham’s efforts to recognize Rachel Carson and her contributions. These efforts include an invitation to participate in the Chatham Visitors Program, a Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee, the More than Aware conference held on campus, and numerous notices and articles about Rachel Carson that appear in Chatham publications. Though Rachel Carson was one of the first individuals invited to join the Chatham Visitors Program, health issues interfered with her visit planned for May 1964. The Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee, composed of members from Chatham, the Rachel Carson Homestead, and the Landscape Design Society of Western Pennsylvania, produced a series of events during May 1987 to commemorate the 25 th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. Events included the commission of a portrait, concerts, lectures, and a tree planting on campus. The More than Aware conference, held in conjunction with the 125 th anniversary of Chatham, commemorated the legacy of Rachel Carson by establishing the Rachel Carson Award, arranging a benefit concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel, and lectures discussing the role of women in science featuring discussion of Margaret Sanger. Materials documenting More than Aware include programs, correspondence, clippings, and an audio cassette. Chatham publications about Rachel Carson, ranging from mentions of her as a student in The Arrow to articles about her in the Alumni Recorder, are also included. Additional records in this series document assorted activities by Chatham to recognize Rachel Carson, including a reading room and nomination to Phi Beta Kappa. Activities of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University can be found in the related collection. Subseries: A Visitor’s Program Subseries B: Chatham Publications about Rachel Carson Subseries C: Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee Subseries D: More Than Aware

Series 4: Alumni Office Research Files, 1955 – 1995

This series contains documentation collected and maintained by the Chatham Alumni Office about Rachel Carson, including articles about Rachel Carson, the clippings on Rachel Carson Homestead, several pieces of correspondence with the Japan Rachel Carson Council and the Rachel Carson Council, and Rachel Carson’s alumnae questionnaire. The collection of articles reflects those available and maintained for research purposes, rather than the entirety of articles published about Rachel Carson during the years represented.

Series 5: Photographs, c. 1910 – 1952

This series contains photographs and photograph duplicates depicting Rachel Carson during her childhood, during her years as a student at Chatham, and after leaving Chatham. Many documents in this series are duplicates from the student yearbooks. Several images are duplicates collected by Chatham from other archival repositories during the course of research. All known photographers and source repositories have been noted. Subseries A: Childhood Photographs Subseries B: Student Photos Subseries C: Campus Friends & Colleagues Subseries D: Assorted Rachel Carson Photos

Return to Table of Contents »


Administrative Information

Publication Information

Chatham University, November 2018

Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA, 15232
412-365-1212
jkmref@chatham.edu

Conditions Governing Access:

There are no restrictions on access. The records are open for research use.

Processing Information:

Processed by Jennifer Aronson, 2002 and by Colleen Reilly, 2006. Arrangement and finding aid updated by Molly Tighe with Emily Simons in 2017.

Return to Table of Contents »


Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Chatham University.

Personal Name(s)

  • Carson, Rachel, 1907-1964
  • Eddy, Edward Danforth

Subject(s)

  • Chatham University -- History -- Sources

Return to Table of Contents »


Collection Inventory

Series  I. Essays and Articles by Rachel Carson, 1925-1963  (Bulk, 1925-1928)

Scope and Contents

Series 1 contains the writings by Rachel Carson, including her high school thesis, college essays, student newspaper articles, one article that appeared in the Pittsburgh Press in 1963, and editions of Silent Spring, Under the Sea Wind, The Rocky Coast, Edge of the Sea Wind, etc in English and several other languages.  Of particular note among Rachel Carson’s student writing is her essay, “Master of the Ship’s Light” for which she was awarded the Omega prize. Items in this series are copies compiled for ease of access and original publications appearing in the campus publications The Arrow and The Englicode are available in the related Campus Publications Collections. Materials are ordered chronologically, with the books using the most recent copyright date.

  BoxFolder
High School Graduating Thesis 1925 11
  BoxFolder
“Who I am and Why I came to P.C.W.” 1925 12
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles from The Arrow 1926-1928 13
  BoxFolder
“The Master of the Ship’s Light” 1926 14
  BoxFolder
“Why I am a Pessimist” 1926 15
  BoxFolder
“Broken Lamps” 1927 16
  BoxFolder
“Keeping and Expense Account” 1927 17
  BoxFolder
“The Golden Apple” 1927 18
  BoxFolder
“Let’s Raise Chickens” 1927 19
  BoxFolder
“Homecoming/Let’s Go Coasting” 1928 110
  BoxFolder
Under the Sea-Wind 1941 111
  BoxFolder
Under the Sea-Wind 1941 112
  BoxFolder
The Sea Around Us, Signed Copy 1951 113
  BoxFolder
The Sea Around Us, Inscribed Copy 1951 114
  BoxFolder
The Edge of the Sea 1955 115
  BoxFolder
The Edge of the Sea 1955 116
  BoxFolder
Am Saum der Gezeiten 1957 117
  BoxFolder
18: Là Où Finit La Mer: Le Ravage et Ses Merveilles 1957 118
  BoxFolder
Silent Spring 1962 119
  BoxFolder
Silent Spring 1962 120
  BoxFolder
Silent Spring, Dedication to Bob and note from Robert Carson 1962 121
  BoxFolder
Folder 22: “Pollution is a Matter of Personal Responsibility” 1963 222
  BoxFolder
The Sense of Wonder 1965 223
  BoxFolder
Under the Sea-Wind (Japanese Edition), signed by Translator Keiko Kamito 1969 224
  BoxFolder
The Rocky Coast, republished with photographs 1971 225
  BoxFolder
The Sense of Wonder (Japanese Edition), Signed by Translator Keiko Kamito 1996 226
  BoxFolder
Lost Woods: The Discovered Writings of Rachel Carson, edited by Linda Lear 1998 227

Series  II. Rachel Carson Student Records, 1926-1944 

Scope and Contents

Series two is comprised of student records about Rachel Carson at Chatham, including a copy of her transcript and correspondence relating to tuition payments. This correspondence, which dates from 1928 to 1944, addresses repayment of a tuition loan made to Rachel Carson by the school and for which her family used land they owned near Pittsburgh as collateral. The letters detail the financial struggles of the Carson family during the Great Depression and Rachel Carson’s role as the sole family provider. Rachel Carson’s loan repayment was completed in the 1940s. Also included is an edition of The Æneid of Virgil with inscription “Rachel Louise Carson” donated by Alden M. Rollins.

  BoxFolder
Transcript 1929 228
  BoxFolder
Tuition Payments 1929-1994 229
  BoxFolder
The Æneid of Virgil with inscription “Rachel Louise Carson”, Donated by Alden M. Rollins 230
  BoxFolder
Yearbook 1926-1927 231

Series  III. Chatham Recognition of Rachel Carson, 1925-1995  (Bulk, 1952-1995)

Scope and Contents

Series 3 includes documentation of Chatham’s efforts to recognize Rachel Carson and her contributions. These efforts include an invitation to participate in the Chatham Visitors Program, a Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee, the More than Aware conference held on campus, and numerous notices and articles about Rachel Carson that appear in Chatham publications. Though Rachel Carson was one of the first individuals invited to join the Chatham Visitors Program, health issues interfered with her visit planned for May 1964. The Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee, composed of members from Chatham, the Rachel Carson Homestead, and the Landscape Design Society of Western Pennsylvania, produced a series of events during May 1987 to commemorate the 25 th anniversary of the publication of Silent Spring. Events included the commission of a portrait, concerts, lectures, and a tree planting on campus. The More than Aware conference, held in conjunction with the 125 th anniversary of Chatham, commemorated the legacy of Rachel Carson by establishing the Rachel Carson Award, arranging a benefit concert with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lorin Maazel, and lectures discussing the role of women in science featuring discussion of Margaret Sanger. Materials documenting More than Aware include programs, correspondence, clippings, and an audio cassette. Chatham publications about Rachel Carson, ranging from mentions of her as a student in The Arrow to articles about her in the Alumni Recorder, are also included. Additional records in this series document assorted activities by Chatham to recognize Rachel Carson, including a reading room and nomination to Phi Beta Kappa. Activities of the Rachel Carson Institute at Chatham University can be found in the related collection.

Subseries Visitor’s Program 1963-1964 

Box
2
  BoxFolder
Visitor's Program 1963-1964 232

Subseries Chatham Publications about Rachel Carson 1925-1988 

Box
2
  BoxFolder
Chatham Publications about Rachl Carson 1925-1962 233
  BoxFolder
Chatham Publications about Rachel Carson 1964-1977 234
  BoxFolder
Chatham Publications about Rachel Carson 1981-1988 235

Subseries Rachel Carson Remembrance Committee 1982-1987 

Box
2
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson Rememberance Committee 1982–1987 236

Subseries More Than Aware 1994-1995 

Box
2
  BoxFolder
More Than Aware 1994–1995 237
  BoxFolder
More Than Aware 1995 238
  BoxFolder
1964–1966 1964–1966 239
  BoxFolder
Memorial Award 1987-1995 240
  BoxFolder
Correspondence with Carson Family 1966 241
  BoxFolder
Commemoration Correspondence 1979–1980 242
  BoxFolder
Miscellaneous Correspondence between Rachel Carson and Chatham, including Phi Beta Kappa 1962–1963 243
  BoxFolder
Honorary Doctorate 1952 244

Series  IV. Alumni Office Research Files, 1955-1995 

Scope and Contents

This series contains documentation collected and maintained by the Chatham Alumni Office about Rachel Carson, including articles about Rachel Carson, the clippings on Rachel Carson Homestead, several pieces of correspondence with the Japan Rachel Carson Council and the Rachel Carson Council, and Rachel Carson’s alumnae questionnaire. The collection of articles reflects those available and maintained for research purposes, rather than the entirety of articles published about Rachel Carson during the years represented.

  BoxFolder
Biography of Rachel Carson 1962 245
  BoxFolder
Book Reviews 1955–1998 246
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles 1962–1963 247
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles 1964–1981 248
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles 1981–1986 349
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles 1987–1990 350
  BoxFolder
Assorted Articles 1991–1999 351
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson Homestead 1970–1995 352
  BoxFolder
Japanese Rachel Carson Council 1993–1997 353
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson Council 1980s 354
  BoxFolder
Alumni Office Record 1956, 1961 355
  BoxFolder
Dorothy Seis recollections of classmate 1987 356
  BoxFolder
Gail Williams recollections of high school Rachel Carson 1995 357
  BoxFolder
Microfilm Reel of correspondence between Rachel Carson and Houghton Mifflin 358
  BoxFolder
House Bill 107: Rachel Carson Day 1991 359

Series  V. Photographs, c. 1910-1952 

Scope and Contents

This series contains photographs and photograph duplicates depicting Rachel Carson during her childhood, during her years as a student at Chatham, and after leaving Chatham. Many documents in this series are duplicates from the student yearbooks. Several images are duplicates collected by Chatham from other archival repositories during the course of research. All known photographers and source repositories have been noted.

Subseries Childhood Photographs, c. 1910 

Box
3
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson with puppy, Candy at Rachel Carson Homestead 360
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson holds a bouquet of flowers 361
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson as Infant w/ siblings Marian & Robert at Carson Homestead 362
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/ siblings Marian & Robert at the Beach along Alleghany River 363
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson and her dog Candy at the Carson Homestead in Winter 364
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson and her dog Candy at the Carson Homestead in Winter 365
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson with Horse and Buggy at Carson Homestead 366
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/ dog Candy in her arms at Carson Homestead 367
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/sister Marian & dogs, Don, Pat & Candy at Carson Homestead 368
  BoxFolder
Maria Carson in Automobile next to Rachel w/dog Pat at Carson Homestead 369
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson and horse in Winter at Carson Homestead 370
  BoxFolder
Parnassus High School 371
  BoxFolder
Carson Family Pets on Carson Homestead Steps 372

Subseries Student Photos 

Box
3
  BoxFolder
Freshman Class 1925 373
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson on P.C.W. Campus 1926 374
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/ Parents Robert & Maria on P.C.W. Campus 1926 375
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson Yearbook Photos 1928 376
  BoxFolder
Honorary Field Hockey Team 1928 377
  BoxFolder
Yearbook Photo/Omega Club 1928 378
  BoxFolder
Graduation Photo 1929 379
  BoxFolder
Carson on Pony w/ friends, no date 1929 380
  BoxFolder
Carson with 4 Classmates 381

Subseries Campus Friends & Colleagues 1928 

Box
3
  BoxFolder
Mary Skinker 1928 382
  BoxFolder
Dorothy Flloyd Warren 1928 383

Subseries Assorted Rachel Carson Photos 

Box
3
  BoxFolder
Brook Photography Press Proofs 1951 384
  BoxFolder
Carson with her dog, Rags (Maryland) 1945 385
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson on dock at Wood Hole Biological Laboratory (Mass.), Edwin Gray 1950 386
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson and James Jones at National Book Award Ceremonies 1952 387
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson in Forest with Children 388
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson Kneels in Knolls of grass 389
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/ Microscope 390
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson w/Binoculars on Hawk Mountain 1945 391
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson looking over her shoulder in the Forest 392
  BoxFolder
Rachel Carson with Binoculars in Forest 393
  BoxFolder
Biography Cover, Negative 394

Series  VI. Miscellaneous 

  BoxFolder
Correspondence between Bob Hines and Rachel Carson 1963 395