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The Rachel Carson Letters and the Making of Silent Spring

Paull, John (2013) The Rachel Carson Letters and the Making of Silent Spring. Sage Open, 3 (July), pp. 1-12.

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Environment, conservation, green, and kindred movements look back to Rachel Carson’s 1962 book Silent Spring as a milestone. The impact of the book, including on government, industry, and civil society, was immediate and substantial, and has been extensively described; however, the provenance of the book has been less thoroughly examined. Using Carson’s personal correspondence, this paper reveals that the primary source for Carson’s book was the extensive evidence and contacts compiled by two biodynamic farmers, Marjorie Spock and Mary T. Richards, of Long Island, New York. Their evidence was compiled for a suite of legal actions (1957-1960) against the U.S. Government and that contested the aerial spraying of dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). During Rudolf Steiner’s lifetime, Spock and Richards both studied at Steiner’s Goetheanum, the headquarters of Anthroposophy, located in Dornach, Switzerland. Spock and Richards were prominent U.S. anthroposophists, and established a biodynamic farm under the tutelage of the leading biodynamics exponent of the time, Dr. Ehrenfried Pfeiffer. When their property was under threat from a government program of DDT spraying, they brought their case, eventually lost it, in the process spent US$100,000, and compiled the evidence that they then shared with Carson, who used it, and their extensive contacts and the trial transcripts, as the primary input for Silent Spring. Carson attributed to Spock, Richards, and Pfeiffer, no credit whatsoever in her book. As a consequence, the organics movement has not received the recognition, that is its due, as the primary impulse for Silent Spring, and it is, itself, unaware of this provenance.

EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Marjorie Spock, Mary Richards, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Long Island, New York, DDT, gypsy moth, organic farming, biodynamic agriculture.
Subjects: Knowledge management > Education, extension and communication
Knowledge management > Research methodology and philosophy
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > United Kingdom
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > United States
"Organics" in general > Countries and regions > World
"Organics" in general > History of organics
Research affiliation:Australia
Australia > University of Tasmania
UK > Univ. Oxford
Related Links:https://orgprints.org/18835/1/Paull2011OxfordEJES.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18836/1/Paull2011KoberwitzJOS.pdf, https://orgprints.org/18809/1/Paull2011KoberwitzEJSS.pdf
Deposited By: Paull, Dr John
ID Code:22934
Deposited On:05 Jul 2013 07:39
Last Modified:17 Sep 2013 17:35
Document Language:English
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted
Additional Publishing Information:© 2013 the Author(s). This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Without requesting permission from the Author or SAGE, you may further copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the article, with the condition that the Author and SAGE Open are in each case credited as the source of the article.

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