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The Pinchot paper caper.

Tom Harlan recently retired as Assistant Director of the U.S. Forest Service's Office of Public Affairs.

Occupying more than a quartermile of shelf space, the collection will shed extra light on a special period in conservation history.

Gifford Pinchot must have felt a strong sense of history, because he kept most or all of the correspondence and records created during his lifetime. By the time he died in 1946, an enormous amount of material covering a wide range of subjects had accumulated, including some belonging to his father and mother. These papers, now at the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, represent the largest personal collection ever received there.

In fact, the donation is larger than the combined papers of all three Presidents under whom Pinchot served. Because of its size-it occupies over a quarter-mile of shelf space-the papers have never been well organized.

In preparation for the centennial celebration planned for 1991, the Forest Service has provided funds to organize the papers covering the years of 1890 to 1910. This period includes Pinchot's education at Yale University, his forestry studies in France, and his years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before he was dismissed by President Taft.

Pinchot was a prolific writer and diarist. His files contain correspondence with such luminaries as John Muir, Dr. Charles S. Sargent of Harvard, Sir Detrich Brandis, and Theodore Roosevelt, to name a few. His diaries and letters show the close cooperation and personal friendship that existed between him and Roosevelt.

The project is being funded by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation Studies (Grey Towers) in Milford, Pennsylvania. According to Institute Director Ed Vandermillen, organizing the papers will provide easier access for scholars, which should lead to a more accurate understanding of the leading conservationists of the time. Some authors have inadvertently portrayed an incomplete picture of Pinchot and his role in forest management.

Dr. Joseph A. Miller of New Haven, Connecticut, librarian at the Yale School of Forestry and forest history professor, has been named as project administrator. Dr. jean Pablo of Washington, DC, an eminent Pinchot historian, is working with Richard Bickel of the Library of Congress to oversee the day-to-day work in the stacks of the Madison Building.

The actual job involves inventorying the contents of an estimated 400 library boxes out of over 3,000 in the total collection. Contents of the boxes are listed, rusty paper clips are removed, and the material is placed in acid-free folders. When it is all organized, there will be easy access to subjects like the Pinchot-ballinger dispute and the early years of the Forest Service.

The project has already yielded some fascinating gems-like the letter Pinchot posted from Milford asking the recipient to please take my dog out for a walk this afternoon as I will not be leaving Grey Towers until late." Apparently a letter could be written, posted for delivery by train to New York City, and delivered to the house all in the same afternoonand this was before Express Mail.

The Pinchot Papers project is scheduled for completion by the end of this year. AF
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Title Annotation:Gifford Pinchot's papers
Author:Harlan, Thomas
Publication:American Forests
Date:Jul 1, 1989
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