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TEACH: Great Lakes Environmental Authors

4 | Rachel Carson (1907-1964)

Rachel Carson's house The modern environmental movement was boosted, if not launched, by the publication of the 1962 best-seller, Silent Spring. The book's author was Rachel Carson from Springdale, Pa. In 1900, her family bought some hillside property on the Allegheny River a few miles outside of Pittsburgh. The five-room clapboard house had no central heating or indoor plumbing. It was here that the young Carson, guided by a mother inte rested in nature study, began to construct her world view. She spent a great deal of time outside, deciding to learn as much about the environment as possible. Her studies took her to Johns Hopkins University for graduate work in marine biology. She worked for the federal government as a natural history writer while she cared for her parents and siblings, leaving little time for a personal life. Several books, including The Sea Around Us, brought her fame, but her biggest literary accomplishment was Silent Spring. This book, linking indiscriminate pesticide use with bird population declines, took on the chemical industry. Her tremendous courage in the face of an orchestrated disinformation campaign and personal attacks by her detractors, while suffering from cancer, is her legacy to us all.

Graphic: Rachel Carson's childhood home in Springdale, Pa. (with later addition).

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