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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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Adamson, Joy (20 January 1910–03 January 1980), writer and conservationist, was born Friederike Viktoria Gessner in Troppau, Austria, the daughter of Victor Gessner, a civil servant, and Traute Greipel. Before her first marriage, to automobile company official Viktor von Klarwill in 1935, Adamson studied piano and took courses in other arts, including sculpture. She made her first trip to Kenya in 1936, to investigate that country as a possible new home for herself and her husband, whose Jewish background made him eager to leave Austria at this time of Nazi advance. During this trip she became involved with Peter Bally, a Swiss botanist whom she married in 1938 after becoming divorced from von Klarwill in 1937....

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Albert, Eddie (22 April 1906–26 May 2005), actor and environmental activist, was born Edward Albert Heimberger in Rock Island, Illinois, the son of Frank Daniel Heimberger, a realtor, and Julia Jones. At the age of one his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he attended parochial school before graduating from Central High School in 1924. He then entered the University of Minnesota where he majored in business and worked his way up to manager at the local theater. Young Eddie left school without graduating and worked a series of odd jobs before joining a singing trio that appeared on the local radio station. Tired of hearing his name mangled as “hamburger” he changed it to Eddie Albert, and after successfully auditioning at NBC he moved to New York with partner Grace Bradt to star in ...

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Albright, Horace Marden (06 January 1890–28 March 1987), park service director, was born in Bishop, California, the son of George Albright, a mining engineer, and Mary Marden. He graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1912 with a B.A. in economics. While a law student at Berkeley, Albright worked as a reader for Professor Adolph C. Miller. In 1913, when Secretary of the Interior ...

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Allen, Edward Tyson (26 December 1875–27 May 1942), forester and conservationist, was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Oscar Dana Allen, a professor of analytical chemistry at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale, and Fidelia Roberts Totman. Educated in the public schools and privately by his father, Allen moved with his family first to California and later to Washington State, where they lived near Mount Rainier. He began work as a reporter for the ...

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Baker, John Hopkinson (30 June 1894–21 September 1973), wildlife conservationist, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of George Pierce Baker, a professor of dramatic literature at Harvard University and founder of the School of Drama at Yale, and Christina Hopkinson. Baker’s interest in wildlife began when as a child he attended meetings and interacted with members of the Nuttall Ornithological Club and the American Ornithological Union. He became a member of both organizations in 1911. After he graduated from the Cambridge Latin School, he attended Harvard University, graduating in 1915 with a B.A. He set out to work at the National Cash Register Company that year, but World War I interrupted his employment in 1917. As a first lieutenant, Baker served as a pilot in the Air Force and spent six months overseas. When he returned, he took a job with the American International Corporation, for which he traveled extensively promoting foreign trade. In 1921 Baker married Elizabeth Dabney; the couple had two daughters....

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Bass, Robert Perkins (11 September 1873–29 July 1960), governor of New Hampshire, conservationist, and labor relations adviser, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Perkins Bass, a lawyer, and Clara Foster. Bass’s interest in politics was likely influenced by his father, who served as ...

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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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Bennett, Hugh Hammond (15 April 1881–07 July 1960), soil conservationist and soil scientist, was born near Wadesboro in Anson County, North Carolina, the son of William Osborne Bennett and Rosa May Hammond, farmers.

Bennett earned a bachelor of science degree with an emphasis in chemistry and geology from the University of North Carolina in June 1903. At that time, the Bureau of Soils within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had just begun to make county-based soil surveys, which would in time be regarded as important American contributions to soil science. Bennett accepted a job in the bureau headquarters’ laboratory in Washington, D.C., but agreed first to assist on the soil survey of Davidson County, Tennessee, beginning 1 July 1903. The acceptance of that task, in Bennett’s words, “fixed my life’s work in soils.”...

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Brower, David (01 July 1912–05 November 2000), editor and environmentalist, was born David Ross Brower in Berkeley, California, the son of Ross John Brower, an instructor in mechanical drawing at the University of California, and Mary Grace Barlow Brower. After dropping out of the University of California in 1931, Brower worked as a clerk in a Bay Area candy store and did publicity work for the Curry Company in Yosemite National Park, where he also filled in as an occasional tour guide. An accomplished mountain climber, he participated in first ascents of seventy peaks in the Sierra Nevada range and led the first ascent of Shiprock in New Mexico in 1939. Brower joined the Sierra Club in 1933 and eight years later was named a member of the club's board of directors. In 1943 Brower married Anne Hus, an editor with the University of California Press, which had hired Brower as an editor in 1941. The Browers had four children. As a member of the Tenth Mountain Division in Italy during World War II, Lieutenant Brower was awarded the Bronze Star for service as a combat intelligence officer during the final assaults on German positions in the Apennines....

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Carr, Marjorie H. (26 Mar. 1915–10 Oct. 1997), environmental activist and zoologist, was born Marjorie Harris in Boston, Massachusetts, to Charles Ellsworth Harris, a teacher, and Clara Louise Haynes. The couple wintered in Florida, eventually relocating in 1918 to a ten-acre orange grove south of Bonita Springs. Marjorie reveled in the natural beauty of rural southwest Florida, enjoying the nearby rivers and beaches while riding her beloved pony. In ...

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Commoner, Barry (28 May 1917–30 September 2012), scientist-activist, biologist, and environmentalist, was born Barry Commoner in Brooklyn, New York, to Isaac (Isador) and Gussie Commoner, Russian immigrants. His uncle, the Slavonic scholar Avrahm Yarmolinsky, recommended the family adopt a more anglicized spelling of their last name. Commoner attended Brooklyn’s James Madison High School, where he discovered his passion for biology. Assisted by his wife, the poet ...

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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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Denver, John (31 December 1943–12 October 1997), singer, songwriter, and environmental activist, was born Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., in Roswell, New Mexico, the son of Henry John “Dutch” Deutschendorf, an air force pilot, and Erma Swope Deutschendorf. Dutch Deutschendorf's military career forced the family to move often, and John grew up a shy, self-conscious loner with few friends. He began taking guitar lessons when he was eleven, and in high school he used his natural talent for playing and singing to gain popularity. From 1961 to 1964 he studied architecture at Texas Tech University, but he quit school in his junior year and moved to Los Angeles, where he hoped to devote himself full time to a music career. Taking the name “John Denver,” he began playing at small folk clubs in the area with some success. He became a member of the “Backporch Majority,” which played on the back porch of Ledbetter's, a club owned by Randy Sparks of the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group. But folk music was in transition at this time, as electric guitars and drums were more often being used, much to the dismay of traditionalists....

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Douglas, Marjory Stoneman (07 April 1890–14 May 1998), author and environmentalist, was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the daughter of Florence Lillian Trefethen Stoneman, who went by the name of Lillian, and Frank Bryant Stoneman, a businessman and newspaper editor. When Marjory was three her father's business failed, and the family moved to Providence, Rhode Island. Further business reverses took a toll on Lillian Stoneman's mental health and resulted in a nervous breakdown. Not long thereafter, Lillian separated from her husband and, with her six-year-old daughter, traveled to Taunton, Massachusetts, to live with her parents and unmarried sister....

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William O. Douglas. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-103906).

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Douglas, William O. (16 October 1898–19 January 1980), U.S. Supreme Court justice, New Deal administrator, and environmentalist, was born William Orville Douglas in Maine, Minnesota, near the North Dakota border, the son of Julia Fisk and William Douglas, a Presbyterian minister. The family moved to southern California in 1901 and then to eastern Washington, near Yakima, a year later....

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Emerson, George Barrell (12 September 1797–04 March 1881), educator and environmentalist, was born in Wells, Maine, the son of Samuel Emerson and Sarah Barrell, farmers. His father was also a physician and encouraged him to study Latin grammar and texts. Similar to the sons of many nineteenth-century yeoman farmers, Emerson attended school only during the winter months and worked the farm during the planting and harvesting seasons. By working the farm, he developed an early interest in plants, shrubs, and trees....

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Forbush, Edward Howe (24 April 1858–08 March 1929), ornithologist and conservationist, was born in Quincy, Massachusetts, the son of Leander Pomeroy Forbush, a school principal, and Ruth Hudson Carr. Soon after their son’s birth, the parents moved their family to West Roxbury, Massachusetts, while Forbush’s father went into business in nearby Worcester. In early childhood, Forbush developed a strong interest in birds, mammals, and nature in general; in his early teens, he taught himself to be a competent taxidermist. Forbush attended the public schools in West Roxbury and Worcester, but he left at age fifteen, to help his father in his business, and never graduated. All thought of college was soon abandoned. He assisted his father as a laborer, mechanic, and farmer for seven years, and studied natural history in such spare time as he could find. At age sixteen he became a member of the Worcester Natural History Society, and served as volunteer curator of ornithology for its museum. At age nineteen he became president of the society, and with like-minded friends, worked hard to develop local interest in the organization and in the nature study programs it offered. For several years he enjoyed the luxury of pursuing his natural history avocation with little thought for earning any independent income....