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Adams, Ansel (20 February 1902–22 April 1984), photographer and environmentalist, was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Charles Hitchcock Adams, a businessman, and Olive Bray. The grandson of a wealthy timber baron, Adams grew up in a house set amid the sand dunes of the Golden Gate. When Adams was only four, an aftershock of the great earthquake and fire of 1906 threw him to the ground and badly broke his nose, distinctly marking him for life. A year later the family fortune collapsed in the financial panic of 1907, and Adams’s father spent the rest of his life doggedly but fruitlessly attempting to recoup....

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Becker, Marion Rombauer (02 January 1903–28 December 1976), cookbook writer, arts administrator, and conservationist, was born Marion Julia Rombauer in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Edgar Roderick Rombauer, a lawyer, and Irma Louise von Starkloff, a cookbook writer. Her outlook and interests were strongly shaped by a freethinking, reform-minded family. She studied art history and French at Vassar College and spent her junior year at Washington University in St. Louis, receiving a B.A. from Vassar in 1925. Hoping to find a career in modern dance or art education, she began teaching in 1929 in the art department of John Burroughs School, an experimental school in Clayton, Missouri....

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Jay Norwood Darling. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98678).

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Darling, Jay Norwood (21 October 1876–12 February 1962), political cartoonist and conservationist, known as “Ding,” was born in Norwood, Michigan, the son of the Reverend Marcellus Warner Darling, a public school administrator and Congregational minister, and Clara R. Woolson. Darling grew up from the age of ten in Sioux City, Iowa, a frontier community surrounded by prairie teeming with wildlife. He spent many days and nights hunting, fishing, camping, and horseback riding in the pristine natural bounty that provided what he described as the “pleasantest recollections” of his long and eventful life....

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R. Buckminster Fuller. Oil on canvas, c. 1981, by Ruth Munson. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.

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Fuller, R. Buckminster (12 July 1895–01 July 1983), inventor, designer, and environmentalist, often referred to as “Bucky,” was born Richard Buckminster Fuller, Jr., in Milton, Massachusetts, the son of Richard Buckminster Fuller, an importer of leather and tea, who died in 1910, and Caroline Wolcott Andrews. He was the grandnephew of author and literary critic ...

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Olmsted, Frederick Law, Jr. (24 July 1870–25 December 1957), landscape architect, planner, and public servant, was born on Staten Island, New York, the son of Frederick Law Olmsted, the progenitor of the profession of landscape architecture in the United States, and Mary Cleveland Perkins Olmsted, the widow of Olmsted’s brother. Called Henry Perkins at birth, he was renamed Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., at about age four by his father and thereafter informally known as “Rick.” Since his father worked from home, Olmsted was immersed in the family business from his earliest years. He traveled with his father to job sites and on European study trips and helped out in the office during school vacations. In 1881 the senior Olmsted moved the family to Brookline, Massachusetts, where the Olmsted firm continued in practice for nearly a century. Frederick Olmsted received his A.B. in 1894 from Harvard, having planned his course of study with the expectation of becoming a landscape architect....

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Owings, Nathaniel Alexander (05 February 1903–13 June 1984), architect, was born in Indianapolis, Indiana, the son of Nathaniel Owings, a fine-wood importer, and Cora Alexander. After his father’s death in 1914, his mother supported the family by working as an accountant. In 1920 Owings won a Rotary Club trip to Europe, where he saw the cathedrals of Notre Dame, Chartres, and Mont-Saint-Michel. The experience determined his course in life. In 1921 he began studies in architecture at the University of Illinois but left after a year on account of illness. He returned to school, attending Cornell University, where he graduated in 1927 with degrees in architecture and engineering. He began his career in the New York architecture firm of York and Sawyer. In 1931 he married Emily Hunting Otis; they had four children....

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Stoddard, Seneca Ray (13 May 1843–26 April 1917), landscape photographer and conservationist, was born in Wilton, New York, the son of Charles Stoddard, a part-time farmer who also did craft work and/or lumbering, and Julia Ray Stoddard. Stoddard's childhood home, the Wilton hamlet of Dimick's Corners, was located in the shadow of Mount McGregor, the highest peak of the Adirondacks' Palmer Range....