Warning: I have not had time to clean up the scanned version of these notes. I apologize for the many errors they still contain. If you want a clean copy of them, please ask me.
I Maria McLean, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister, had been well educated and was accomplished musician. She lived almost continuously with her daughter Rachel until her death nearly 90' Rachel's father, Robert Warden Carson, was never a significant influence on daughter's development or outlook. His family background, employment history, and marriage remain obscure. By the time Rachel went off to graduate school, he was in questionable health and died of cardiac arrest in 1935.
2 Interview with Helen Meyers Knox, February 11, 1992, Greensburg, Pa. Both she and Ray had to live frugally and were unlikely to participate in collegiate social life with the daughters of Pittsburgh's wealthy industrialists.
3 Dorothy Thompson Seif, "Letters from Rachel Carson: A Young Scientist Sets her Course~ (unpublished mast, c. 1987) Rachel Carson Council, Inc. Chevy Chase, Md.
4 "I remember Muller's work on the effect of radiation on germ cells was just being talked about when I first studied genetics...." Rachel Carson to Marie Rodell, November 29,1955. Radlel Carson Papers, Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, ~ University, New Haven, CT. Hereafter cited as RCP. The importance she gave to her worl genetics and mutation is also dear from the text she wrote for the dust jacket of Silent Spnng wl read in part, "While at Hopkins she studied genetics with HS Jennings and later worked with geneticist Raymond PearL She studied radiation as cause of mutations." Marie Rodell to I Brooks, February 16,1960, RCP.
However, early letters to Dorothy Seif indicate that Carson had been originally less t enthusiastic about her study of genetics at Hopkms, although she admired Pearl deeply.
5 General biographical information other than noted comes from the author's interviews material in the Rachel Carson Papers.
6 Rachel Carson, Sd mt Spring (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1962), 24.
7 Time Magazine (September 28,1962): 45-46.
8 Carson, Sd mt Spnng, 5.
9 Historians of DDT and its wartime development and early civilian agricultural application, Ja Wharton, Thomas Dunlap, John Perkins, David Pimentel and Edmund Russell have ably documer the scientific arguments advanced for DDT and its related synthetic hydrocarbon pestiddes as ~ as the enthusiastic response of the military, industry, and agriculture. My concern here is to p out the distinctive bureaucratic cultures in which pesticide applications were debated and Ra Carson's involvement on the periphery of those discussions.
10 In FWS the control unit was Rodent amd Predator ControL Their co\mterpart m ARS was Plant Pest Control. Interview with John L. George. July 30, 1991. State College Pa. George worked for FWS from 1958 to 1963 when he moved to the faculty of Pennsylvania State University. George was the first wildlife biologist specifically interested m pesticides to be hired by FWS. Thomas R.Dunlap, Dl~,Sacntists, Citizens, und Public Policy (Princeton: Pnnceton University Press, 19811 36.
This is a crucial distinction. Dunlap clarifies this noting that this shift to chemical control occurred when pioneer entomologists with broad training in biology were replaced by those with a far narrower technical training. The "old" economic entomologists "tended to see insects as part of nature, and to see economic entomology as part of ecology." The "new" economic entomologists were agricultural sdentists, not bidogists, interested in applications. They were '1ess concemed about general study of insects or their place m biology." See Royal N. Chapmam, Animul Eeology (New York McGraw Hill, 1931): 873 89a See also EH. Smith, "The Entomological Society of America: The First Humdred Years, 1889-1989." The Entomological Society of America, 1989. Stephen A. Forbes in his Presidential Address to the Entomological Society of America in 1915 was disturbed by the direction of the profession. "An economic entomologist," he argued is an ecologist, pure and simple, whether he calls himself so or not." "Ecological Foundations of Applied Entomology," Annual6 of thc Entomological Socicty of Americu. 7(1915): 1-19.
I am indebted to David Pimentel, Department of Entomology, CorneU University, for refining my understanding of the "new" entomology and the pestidde debate within the profession during the S0cnt Spring controversy.
11 Interview with John L. George, July 31, 1991, State CoUege, Pa. James B. DeWitt, "Chronic Toxicdty to Ouail and Pheasants of Some Chlorinated Insectiddes," Journal of Agrie~lturc und Food Chemistry, 4 (October 1956): 86~866. Lmda J. Lear, "BombaheD in Beltsville: The USDA and the ChaDenge of S0ent Spring." Agriculturul History. 66, 2(Spring 1992): 152-170. See also Pete Daniel, "A Rogue Bureaucracy: The USDA Flre Ant Campaign of the Late 1950s," AgrieulturAl Hisf ory, 64(5pring 1990): 99-121.
12 "Patuxent Wildlffe Research Center,~ Fish and W0dlife Ncws (February March 1989): 6-7.
13 At Patuxent George and his chief, biochemist James DeWitt, directed field work on pesticide residues and established the increasing concentrations of hydrocarbon pestiddes in a variety of birds. Like Cottam earLer, George increasingly fc~und himself professionaDy and politicaUy isolated. Both Dan Janzen, the director of FWS and John Buckley, the director of Patuxent, shared the views of the control entomologists dlat "there was nodling good about the noxious critters," and supported the program of pest eradication. These control entomologists understood chemicals but they knew litBe about the Iffe cycle of the msect they were attempting to eradicate. Interview with John L. George, |uly 30, 1991, State College, Pa.
Interview with Robert Rudd, April 25, 1991.(fhis is one of several extended conversations with Rudd. Dates of each wiD be given h cdtation.) Rudd's book which had been commissioned by dle Conservation Foundation, was completed at least a year before Carson finished Sdent Spring. The University of Wisconsh Press extended the peer review prooess to the entire agricultural school faculty, including the Pnasident of the university. Meanwhile the controversy over 5arnt Spring had broken out further delaying publication of Rudd's important work as weL, as his tenure dedsion. Interview with Samuel Epsteh, Peace River Flms, October 24, 1991.
14 Ralph Lutts, "Chemical FaUout Rachel Carson's Sdent Sprin& Radioactive FaUout and the Environmental Movement." En~ironmental Rcview, 9 (FaU 1985): 214. Lutts argues that Carson consciously used the public's apprehension about radioactive faUout to educate them on how pestiddes worked. "DangerStrontium 90," Ncwsweck (November 12,1956): 88, 90.
15 Unbroadcast interview with Ralph Nader. Recorded for WGBH Television, "Race to Save the
16 Paul Brooks, The Housc of Lifc.Rach~ Carson at Work (New York Houghton Mffflin, 1972), 22&
17 See for example the attitudes of Donald Flemhg, "Roots of the New Conservation Movement." Pospectives in Amoican History Vl.(Charles Warren Center for Studies h American History, Harvard University, 1972), 27-3d, seeespedaUy31. Stephen Fox, ThcAmerican t onsaruationMorJemcnt (Madison: University of Wisconsh Press, 1985), 292-299.
18 See Linda J. Lear, "War in the Garden? Rachel Carson, Gender, and Pestiddes." Paper presented at the conference of the American Sodety for Environmental History, Pittsburgh, Pa. March 6, 1993 for a more elaborate discussion of how her critics used gender to trivialize her charges.
19 Margaret Rossiter, Woman Scientists in Amaica (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1982), 313-314.
20 32nd Annual Report of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole. Report for 1929. (Woods Hole, Massachusetts, 1929), 28-29.
There were 71 scientists listed as "beghnmg investigators" h biology that year; 31 of whom, nearly half, were women. This number included new coUege graduates, graduate students, ar faculty m the lower ranks.
21 The Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory Annual Report for 1964 reflects a sad example ~ dlis "invisibility" when they failed to note Carson's death even though she had been an electe member of the Corporaticm since 1952. Obituary memorids m the report for that year were for fo male scientists who had been Corporation members, but whose professional achievements we~ widlh traditional academic, government amd industry nones.
22 Rossita, 313-316. Rossiter makes the imporUmt point that the depression of the 1930s hardene the rigid lines already drawn about the types of "sdence" women could be employed to do. Carsc experienced dhis first hand in her several efforts to find alternative employment both before ar after she entered government service. Shirley Briggs argues that her assignment as an editor rash, than a field biologist was fortuitow because it brought her mto mntact was such a variety ~ sdentists and sdentific information and broadened her understanding rather than limited it. Whi dlis is certainly the case, it ignores the possibility of what she might have accomplished had she hz the opportunity for research as weU as writing. Interview with Shirley A. Briggs. Executive Directc Rachel Carson Colmdl, Chevy Chase, Md. February 20, 1992. The other woman hired as am aquas biologist was LoeUa Cable. Rachel and Shiriey joined LoeUa tagging shad on the Chesapeake c several occasions. Ibid.
23 She tried to leave Flsh and Wildlffe at the end of World War 11, apparendy because she had be' assigned more public relations work dhan science writing. She applied unsuccessfuUy to dhe Ne York Zoological Sodety amd to National Audubon Society. Bodh organizations had openings f. which she was eminency qualified, but neidher apparendy was ready to hire female biologists to f dhem.
24 Carson won a Eugene F. Saxton Memorial FeUowship in 1949 and a Guggenheim FeUowship 1951 for work on Thc Edgc of thc Sca. Howevff Carson returned the award from dhe Guggenhei when she foumd chat her income from Thc Sca Around Us made it unnecessary. Shirley Briggs, h coUeague from Fish and Wildlffe, sometimes accompanied her on field trips, and Bob Hines, wl was also a FWS iUustrator and colleague traveUed with Carson amd her modher to dffferent locatio~ for work on Thc Edgc of thc Sca which Hines iUustrated. Interview widh Shirley A. Briggs, Februa 20, 1992, Bedhesda, Maryland; Interview widh Robert Hhes, April 25, 1991, Arlhgton, Virginia
25 See Marcia Myers Bon4 Womon in thc Fidd (CoUege Station: Texas A & M Press, 1991) for discussion of women's contributions to dle natural sciences and Vera L. Norwood, Made From T) Earth (Chapel HiU: University of North Cardha Press, 1993). Norwood suggests chat dhe relationsh of female naturalists widh dhe environment was markecUy dffferent from dheir male coumterparts.
26 Bodh Vera Norwood, "The Nature of Knowing Rachel Carson and dhe American Environmen' Signs 12(December 1975): 743 amd H.Patrida Hynes, Thc Rccurring S0cnt Spring (Elmsford, N.' Pergammon Press, 1987),1-67 argue chat Carson's vision was the product of her gender. Whih agree that gender is an important factor m how nature is perceived and described, I ascril particular significance to Carson's spirituality.
27 The article which appeared h Womcn's Homc Companion as "Teach Your Child to Wonder" w dhe beginning of tlw exploration, bod1 im moral amd philosophical terms. Carson considered d work of greatest importance amd intended to return to it and expand upon it had she lived lo' enough to do so.
My understanding of Carson's thinking about the spiritual dimensions of the living world has been aided enormously by numerous conversations with her friend Ruth Scott, h assistant amd friend, Jeanne Davis, and Jennffer Wilder Logan. Interview with Ruth Scott, April l 1991, Pittsburgh, Pa. Interview widh Jeanne Davis, January 10, 1991. See Jennifer Wilder Logan, Scientisrs Reverence for Lffe. Chrysalis. Vll.Spring, 1992): 65-70.
28 In November 1938 Carson tried unsuccessfuUy to interest dhe Baltimore Sun h an article on seleniu and some fluorides; poisons naturaUy present h the soil. She told Sunday editor Mark Watson d' "it has been known for a good while chat stock was being poisoned from dlis source and dhere some recent work which indicates chat people may not fare so weU when dheir drinking water poUuted.... Also, the cumulative effect on fish is radher shlrtlhg.'' ll~is letter indicates chat Carsor interest in environmental amd human contamination from toxins was basic to her dlinkhg about t natural world amd dlat dhe dwcovery amd use of syndhetic hydnDcarbon pestiddes only sparkecl long-term interest and apprehension. Rachel Carson to Mark S. Watson, November 11,1938. RCI
29 Rachel Carson to Harold Lynch, July 15,1945. RCP.
30 Interview with John L George, July 31, 1991, State College, Pa.
31 See Stewart L. Udall, "Testimony", Subcommittee on Reorganization and Intemational Orgamization of the Committee on Govemment Operations, U.S. Senate, 88th Congress, Ist Session. 1964 for a discussion of early experiments at Patuxent.
32 Lear, 157-159; Brooks, 247.
33 Accordingly Carson directed her agent, Marie Rodell, to contact magazines like Readers Digest, Ladies Homc lournal, Good Housekeeping and Women's Home Companion, while she continued to track down the facts. Two weeks later she wrote Rodell that she had hit "pay dirt" uncovenng the ' horrifying facts aboutwhat is happening through the mess application of insecticides... and naturally feel I should like to do an article myself." When the magazines proved unenthusiastic, Carson realized a book would be necessary, but she held out for one to which she would contnbute only parts.
Brooks, 237. Rachel later recalled that '1t was in the course of finding that "someone" that I realized that I must write the book." Rachel Carson to Olga Huckins, October 3, 1962. RCP. She signed a contract with Houghton Mifflin in early April 1958 to contribute to a book entitled '~Ihe Control of Nature" to be co-authored with Edward Diamond a science writer for several magazines. The collaboration was short lived and Diamond later became one of Carson's most caustic critics. See Paul Brooks, "Report to the Executive Committee. K5040. April 1,1958. RCP. Interview with Paul Brooks, October 6, 1991, Lincoln Center, MA.
34 Ouoted in Brooks, 228.
35 See Brian Balogh, Chain Reaction: Expert Dcbak und PuWic Participation in American Commercial Nuclear Porvcr, 19451975 (Cambridge University Press, 1991), 21-59 for an interesting discussion of the impact of cold war politics on sdence.
36 Lear, 159.
37 Interview with John L. George, July 31, 1991, State College, Pa. A postscript to Professor Joseph f Hickey's letter to Rachel Carson at the end of 1957 says it all. 'This phenomenon" [character assassination] "is one to winch several wildlife biologists have been exposed. As long as I am trying to carry out objective research on the wildlife effects of pestiddes, I am not going to discuss it in public, and I hope you will keep my name out of it. In Georgia, they even went so far, I am told, as to try and get Walter Rosene fired by the U.S.Fish and Wildlife Service. Jim DeWitt at Patuxent knows the full story of L'Affaire Rosene." ].J. Hickey to RC. December 10,1959. RCP; Interview with John L. George, Peace River Films, Apnl 9, 1992. George describes the atmosphere in the field as condudve to "paranoia" because individual field agents had no institutional support for their sightings or their data.
38 Rachel Carson to Olaus Murie, November 19, 1960. RCP.
39 W.L. Popham to Rachel Carson, January 28, 1958 RG 310. Agricultural Research Service Regulatory Crops, Fire Ant.#944. National Archives, Interview with Shirley A Briggs.Apnl 2i 1991, Chevy Chase, Md; Interview with Mrs. Jeanne Davis, March 30,1991, Chevy Chase, Md.
40 Rachel Carson to Harold Lynch, July 15, 1945. RCP; Stewart L. Udall, "The Legacy of Rachel Carson." Saturday RcrJicrv (May 16,1964): 33.
41 Rachel Carson to Edward O. Wilson, November 11,1958. RCP.
42 The runaway best-seller, The Sea Around Us, had been introduoed in the pages of The Nezv Yorker in 1951. Marie Rodell, Carson's literary agent and close friend again convinced William Shawn, the magazine's disting~ushed editor, to take a very different sort of book. Staff columnist E.B. White, who was a long-time admirer of Carson's naturalist writing, was an enthusiastic supporter. But Shawn's risk was limited. The Rodell-Carson team had already made money for the magazine. By 1957 Carson's international reputation was such that Rodell's job of selling Shawn even a book about poisons was rehtively easy. Shawn's timing was perfect.
Both the New York and Houghton Mifflin were threatened with law suits by Velsicol.-
Carson herseff was terrified of being financdally wiped out by having to defend herseff against libel suits. Houghton Mifflin took out extra insurance with Lloyds of London before publication.
Interview with Paul Brooks, October 6,1991, Lincoln Center, MA.
43 New York Times, July 3,1962.
44 The Washington Post, July 10,1962.
45 Frank Graham, Jr. Since Silent Spring (Boston:Houghton Mifflin, 1970), 60.
46 Interview with Frank Graham, Jr., July 19,1992, Milbridge, ME. Graham speculated that Carson was subjected to much more gender denigration than is evident from press reports because much of it was verbal.
47 Cited in Blanche Wiesen Cook, "Viewpoints." AHA Pcrspectr~s (November 1992), 14. The "spinster" comment has been attributed to members of the PSAC committee and to members of the Federal Pest Review Control Board as well as to Benson. From conversations with archivists at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, I suspect that Benson either originated that remark as well as the "communist" appeUation or quoted it to Eisenhower. However I am unable to provide a specific printed cdtation.
48 Lear, "War in the Garden? Rachel Carson, Gender and Pestiddes," 2-10.
49 "The Desolate Year" (New York: The Monsanto Corporation, 1963). Cover letter to distributors.
50 Velsicol Corporation of Chicago [Louis A.McLean] to Houghton Mffflin [William E. Spauldmg]. August 2,1962, RCP. Monsanto Corporation ridiculed the book in a parody describing a world without pesticddes and food in The Desolate Year. The National Agricultural Chemical Assodation (NACA) spent weU over $25,000 in a "camp~ugn to improve the image of industry" and published a question and answer booklet caUed Fact und Fancy to refute Carson's "errors." Chemical and Enginecring News took the offensive publicdzing an increase in pestidde sales despite the objections of "a vodierous, misinformed group of nature-balancing, organic-gardening, bird-loving unreasonable dtizenry that has not been convinced of the important place of agricultural chemicals in our economy." Brooks, 294 295. For an important summary of the spectrum of reaction to Silent Spring see Paul Knight's manuscript "A Case Study on Environmental Contamination" done at the request of Secretary Stewart UdaU. Manuscript deposited at the Rachel Carson Council, Chevy Chase, MD.
51 Christopher J. Bosso, Pesticides andPolitics: Thi Life Cycic of a Public Issuc. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1987),116. Bosso's work is one of the best on pesticdde policy. His analysis of the limited victory of pesticdde legislation in the late 1960s is particularly mdsive. For an up to date review of pesticdde legislation from the enactment of FIFRA to the present see Shirley A. Briggs and the Rachel Carson Coundl" Appendix Six: U.S.Federal Regulation of Pestiddes, 1910-1988, Bask Cuide to Pesticides (Washington, D.C.: Taylor ~ Frands/Hemisphere Publishing, Inc., 1992), 279-283.
52 Interview with Roland aement, Peace River Films, March 8, 1992, North Bradford, CT. Rachel Carson, Speech to the National Women's Press Club, Washington, D.C. December 4 1962. She was both irritated and amused by her critic's ignorance of her position.
53 Bosso, 116.
54 Dunlap, 112. Dunlap sympatheticaUy observes that if the economic entomologists reacted emotionally, there was '1ittle reason to condemn them." Carson's attack was visceral.
55 Carson, Silent Spring, 297.
56 Bosso, 117.
57 John George, Roland aement and the late William Drury are among contemporaries who see Kennedy's role a pivotal. See interviews with George and Clement already dted. Interview with William Drury, February 29,1992. Bar Harbor, ME. Drury was a member of the President's Sdence Advisory Committee. See also Frank Graham,Jr. Since Silent Spring (Boston:Houghton Mifflin Co.,1970), and author's interview with Frank and Ada Graham, July 19,1992, Milbridge, ME.
As a case in point, Murray Bookchin who wrote Our Synthdic Environment (New York: Affred A. Knopf, 1962) under the pseudonym Lewis Herber, published six months before Carson's, never got attention from the White House or the public even though it covered much of the same ground.
58 There was intense political pressure on the administration to seize the issue. As Secretary of HEW Abraham Ribicoff and his staff had already been working on air and water pollution. Kennedy was pressured by high level party appointees to take positive action on the issue. Interview with Jerome Sonosky, Washington, D.C June 17, 1992. Interview with Abraham Ribicoff. Washmgton, D.C. June 2,1992, New York, NY. Interview with Stewart L. UdaU, March 8,1992, Fairfax, VA.
59 Interview with John L. George, July 30, 1990, State College, Pa. As George tells it, one day a noted physidst on the PSAC told President Kennedy about Silent Spring series in the Ncw Yorker and urged Kennedy to have the Committee study the matter. As far as George is concerned the President's attention was the crudal ingredient. Stewart Udall Kennedy's Secretary of Interior, friend and supporter of Rachel Carson, remembers that Kennedy had read both the articles in Thc New Yorker, as well as the book. Interview with Stewart L. Udall, March 8,1992, Fairfax, Va.
60 There was great repidmg within the Department of Interior and espedally at the Fish and Wildlife Service because almost certainly USDA's power over pestidde poliq would be curtailed and Interior would gam influence. Interview with Stewart L. Udall, March 8, 1992, Fairfax, VA. and Lear, 17.
61 Interview v~rith Jay McMuUen, February 27, 1992, Greenwich, CT. Peace River F~lms. McMuUen speculates that the flood of letters to CBS aU came from one source, probably the agrichemical industry, because they were aU identical.
62 Judging by the hundreds of leuers wriUen to the USDA questioning and complaining about their peshcide policy, viewer sentiment was overwhelmingly in Carson's favor See Lear, "Bombshell in Beltsville," 169.
63 On the impact of television, see Bosso, pp.l1~120. Interview with Jay McMullen, February 27, 1992, Greenwich,CT. Peace River Fdn~ CBS Reporls, ''Ihe Silent Spring of Rachel Carson.~ Broadcast transcript. April 3,1963. After the broadcast, CBS was overwhelmed with favorable letters.
64 Interview with Jerome Sonosky. June 17, 1992. Washington, D.C. Interview with Abraham Ribicoff, June 2,1992, New York, NY.
65 Sonosky had previously served on Ribicoffs staff at HEW and because of his connections knew when the PSAC report would be completed. These heanngs marked RibicofPs debut m the Senate as an "environmental" champion. InterviewwithJerome Sonosky;lnterview with Abraham Ribicof£
66 "The Uses of Pesticides," A Report of the President's Sdence Advisory Committee. The White House. Washington, D.C., May 15,1963. U.S.Government Printing Office, 23.
68 Graham, 79
69 Interview with David grower, April 4,1991, P`ittsburgh, Pa See also For Eor~h's Satc . 77~e Lip and Times of L~uill Brou~r. (Sat Lake City Gibbs-Smith Publisher, 1990), 214-215. :
70 Interview with Stewart L. Udall, March 8, 1991 Fairfa'4 VA.
72 Rachel Carson, Speech accepting the Schweitzer Medal, Animal Welfare h~sHfute, January 7,;