Information for Researchers
Scope and Content of Collection
Collection Title: David Ross Brower Papers,
Date (inclusive): 1924-2001
Collection Number: BANC MSS 79/9 c
Brower, David Ross, 1912-2000
Number of containers: 30 boxes, 125 cartons, 4 oversize boxes, 20 oversize folders
Linear feet: circa 173 linear feet
The Bancroft Library.
Berkeley, California 94720-6000
Abstract: The David Ross Brower Papers consist of records accumulated in the course of
Brower's lifelong work as a conservationist. Included are Brower's correspondence, writings, testimonies
and speeches on virtually every topic associated with the environmental movement in the twentieth
century, including energy resources and conservation, logging, nuclear power and nuclear war, population
control, wilderness preservation, and wildlife conservation. Constituting the bulk of the collection are
records from the conservation organizations he participated in or helped found. Papers pertaining to his
association with the Sierra Club include correspondence and writings dating from his early membership in
1933; editorial files from his work as editor of the
Sierra Club Bulletin; files created
during his final years as the club's Executive Director; and files created from his work as a board
member after his resignation from the directorship through the final years of his life. The records of
Friends of the Earth (FOE), which Brower founded in 1969 after leaving the Sierra Club, document
conservation campaigns, issues, FOE's extensive publishing program, and affiliated organizations,
including the John Muir Institute and Friends of the Earth Foundation, and the Conference on the Fate of
the Earth. Also included are records regarding the founding and projects of Earth Island Institute,
including Brower's campaign for Global Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR). Throughout all
of the records from conservation organizations is documentation of Brower's work to produce books in the
Exhibit Format style he pioneered at the Sierra Club, combining beautiful photography and powerful
writing to bring major conservation issues to the public, and his ongoing use of advertising in national
papers to bring attention to major causes. Other materials of significance include: diaries and
correspondence pertaining to Brower's early mountaineering, including the development of new techniques
and equipment; papers from his service in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II; and files from the
many organizations to which Brower belonged.
Languages Represented: Collection materials are in English.
Physical Location: Many of the Bancroft Library collections are stored offsite and advance
notice may be required for use. For current information on the location of these materials, please
consult the library's online catalog.
Information for Researchers
Collection is open for research.
All requests to reproduce, publish, quote from or otherwise use collection materials must be
submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services, The Bancroft Library, University of California,
Berkeley, 94270-6000. Consent is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the
physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission from the copyright owner. Such
permission must obtained from the copyright owner. See:
Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is
restricted to research and educational purposes.
[Identification of item], David Ross Brower Papers, BANC MSS 79/9 c, The Bancroft Library, University
of California, Berkeley.
Additional Notes on Collection
Box 1, Family Correspondence, has been returned to the Brower family.
Title: Sierra Club Records,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/103 c
Title: Sierra Club Office of the Executive Director Records,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 2002/230 c
Title: Sierra Club Members Papers,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/295 c
Title: Friends of the Earth Records,
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 82/98 c
Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 86/104 c
David R. Brower -- environmental activist, publicist and prophet: an interview, conducted
by Susan Schrepfer, 1974-1978.
Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, the Bancroft Library, University of California,
Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
Film/Videotapes and sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Collection of The
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's
online public access catalog.
Brower, David Ross, 1912-2000 --Archives
Friends of the Earth
Earth Island Institute
Friends of the Earth--Publishing
John Muir Institute for Environmental
League of Conservation Voters
United States. Army. Infantry Division,
86th. Mountain Division, 10th
Conference on the Fate of the Earth
National parks and reserves--California--Yosemite National
Mountaineering--California--Yosemite National Park
Power resources--Environmental aspects
Nuclear energy--Environmental aspects
Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
Manuscripts for publication
The David Ross Brower Papers were given to The Bancroft Library by David Ross Brower on December 14,
1998. Additions were made on January 25, 1999, March 8, 2001, April 3, 2001 and March 5, 2007.
Processed by Tanya Hollis, Elizabeth Stephens, and Jessica Lemieux; additions of 2007 by Alison E.
David Ross Brower was born in Berkeley, California on July 1, 1912, the son of Ross J and Mary Brower. He
had three siblings, Edith, Ralph and Joseph.
In his early years, Brower spent much of his time in the woods surrounding Berkeley, both alone and as a
guide for his mother, leading her on walks and describing the outdoor world after she lost her sight to
a brain tumor. His father taught drafting at the University of California at Berkeley until 1920, when
he lost his position and the family lived off the income from rental apartments he owned. For
recreation, he often took his family hiking and camping in the nearby mountains of the High Sierra.
A butterfly collector in boyhood, David Brower studied entomology at University of California, Berkeley,
but dropped out in 1931 after two years to earn a living. For four years he did clerical work for a
candy company in San Francisco, among other odd jobs, while spending all his spare time climbing in the
Brower joined the Sierra Club in September 1933 sponsored by Richard Leonard, and was added to the
Sierra Club Bulletin's Editorial Board in 1935. He began participating in High Trips,
and soon became a leader. He then worked for three years (1935-1938) as an accountant and publicist for
the Yosemite Park and Curry Company. During this period in Yosemite, Brower continued to spend much of
his time climbing, and quickly became an experienced climber. He also befriended many of the climbers
that would influence his later years including Hervey Voge, Bestor Robinson, George Rockwood, Francis
Farquhar, and Dick and Doris Leonard. He participated in a historic attempt on Mount Waddington (Canada)
in 1935, and the first ascent of New Mexico's Shiprock in 1939. He was also a member of the San
Francisco Bay Chapter, and was the first editor of the
Yodeler from 1938-1940. In 1941,
he became a member of the Sierra Club board of directors.
That same year, Brower was hired as an editor at the University of California Press, where his officemate
was fellow editor Anne Hus. They became friends, but she was still involved with a prior suitor in 1942,
when Brower enlisted in the Army and volunteered for duty in the newly formed Mountain Troops. Three
months later he proposed by mail and they were married on May 1, 1943.
Brower's military service stationed him in a number of training camps, including Camp Hale, Colorado, and
the Seneca School in West Virginia. As a lieutenant, Brower trained troops to scale cliffs, and wrote an
instruction manual for mountain troops. In 1945 Brower was sent to Italy as a member of the 86th
Mountain Infantry, 10th Mountain Division of the US Army. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his service.
Brower returned to California in 1945 and in 1947 he and Anne moved into a small house on Grizzly Peak in
Berkeley, California, where they remained the rest of their lives. Brower rejoined the University of
California Press and added duties as an editor for the
Sierra Club Bulletin.
In 1952, Brower became the Sierra Club's first executive director. During his tenure, Brower helped guide
the Sierra Club's rise to national prominence, building the organization's membership from 2,000 to
77,000 members. Under his direction, the Sierra Club led the effort to pass the Wilderness Act, halted
dam construction that would have flooded Dinosaur National Monument, and pushed for the creation of the
Kings Canyon, North Cascades, and Redwoods National Parks, and the Point Reyes and Cape Cod National
Seashores. Brower also led the Sierra Club into one of its largest campaigns, the fight against proposed
dams in the Grand Canyon; the campaign included a series of innovative full-page ads in the
that many believe led to the loss of the club's tax exempt status.
While executive director, Brower pursued an aggressive publishing program editing numerous club
publications, in particular the club's award-winning Exhibit Format Series. Brower's tenure as executive
director ended in 1969, with the board forcing him to resign after a protracted disagreement with
members of the board about the construction of a nuclear facility at Diablo Canyon, and charges of
financial irresponsibility. Brower continued his association with the Sierra Club, however, and was
elected to the board of the Sierra Club in 1983 and1986, and again in 1995, when he left after less than
a year, feeling the group was not attacking environmental issues swiftly or strongly enough. He was
again elected in 1998, and once again resigned in 2000, shortly before his death.
Immediately after leaving the Sierra Club, he announced the formation of Friends of the Earth (FOE),
along with the League of Conservation Voters, and the John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies. In
1972 he founded Friends of the Earth Foundation, and in 1973, Friends of the Earth International. FOE is
now multinational and operates in sixtyeight countries, and chartered what is
now nationally observed as Earth Day. Brower was dismissed as chairman of Friends of the Earth in 1984
over issues of application of funding.
In 1982, Brower established Earth Island Institute, Brower Fund, and the Biennial Fate and Hope of the
Earth Conferences. Brower also founded the Global Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR)
Service to help catalyze the restoration of natural and human systems and helped organize the Alliance
for Sustainable Jobs and the Environment.
In 1988 and 1990-92, he led delegations to Lake Baikal in Siberia at Soviet request to aid its protection
and restoration. In the fall of 1994, he co-founded the Ecological Council of Americas as a network of
organizations in the Americas focused on problems of environment and economic integration. Brower
developed plans for the creation of a National Biosphere Reserve System, as well as for a National Land
Service to replace the current Bureau of Land Management and to have a new mission of protecting and
restoring both public and private lands in the United States. He played a major role in establishing the
National Wilderness Preservation System, and the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (which
resulted in the Land and Water Conservation Fund).
During his lifetime, Brower made 70 first ascents, summer and winter, in Yosemite and the Western United
States, and trekked to 18,000 feet in the Himalaya below Mount Everest (1976) and to Thyangboche (1984).
He received the First Class Skier award in 1942, and, from 1939 to 1956, in the Sierra Club Wilderness
Outings Program, he initiated the knapsack, river, and wilderness threshold trips and led some 4,000
people into remote wilderness.
Brower was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three times (in 1978, 1979, and 1998 -- jointly with
professor Paul Ehrlich). In October 1998, Brower received the Blue Planet Prize, awarded annually by the
Asahi Glass Foundation of Japan, for his environmental accomplishments. He also received numerous
Brower wrote three memoirs,
Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: A Call to Those Who Would
Save the Earth,
Work in Progress, and
For Earth's Sake, the Life and
Times of David Brower
and has been featured in many films. As a photographer and filmmaker,
Brower began making films in the mid-1930s and played a large role in the creation of early conservation
films. Among the films that Brower created are
Climbing Shiprock, perhaps his first,
which captures the first ascent of Shiprock in New Mexico by Brower and the Sierra Club members.
Brower was directly involved in the production of the Sierra Club films
Skis to the Skyland,
Wilderness Alps of Stehekin,
Skyland Trails of The Kings, and
The Grand Canyon: Living River,
Glen Canyon contains rare images of the canyon prior to flooding due to the
construction of the Lake Powell Dam in 1963.
After 50 years of waging personal battles for the environment, David Ross Brower died of cancer on
November 5th, 2000. Brower and Anne had four children: a daughter, Barbara, and three sons, Kenneth,
Robert, and John.
Comments about Brower's efforts have ranged widely. Brower especially liked what Russell Train said when
he was chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality in the Nixon administration: "Thank God for Dave
Brower; he makes it so easy for the rest of us to be reasonable."
-Partially from the Earth Island Web Page
Published works on David Brower, which may be of use to the researcher:
Brower, David R.
For Earth's Sake: the Life and Times of David Brower. Layton, Utah:
Peregrine Smith Books, 1990.
Brower, David R.
Work in Progress. Salt Lake City: Peregrine Smith Books, 1991.
Brower, David R. and Steve Chapple.
Let the Mountains Talk, Let the Rivers Run: a Call to
Those Who Would Save the Earth.
[San Francisco, Calif.]: HarperCollins West, 1995.
David R. Brower - environmental activist, publicist and prophet: an interview, conducted by
Susan Schrepfer, 1974-1978.
Berkeley: Regional Oral History Office, the Bancroft
Library, University of California, Berkeley, 1980.
McPhee, John A.
Encounters with the Archdruid. New York: The Noonday Press, 1990,
Scope and Content of Collection
The David Ross Brower Papers consist of records accumulated in the course of Brower's lifelong work as a
conservationist. Included are Brower's correspondence, writings, testimonies and speeches on virtually
every topic associated with the environmental movement in the twentieth century, including dams, energy
resources and conservation, logging, nuclear power and nuclear war, population control, wilderness
preservation, and wildlife conservation. Constituting the bulk of the collection are records from the
conservation organizations he participated in or helped found. Papers pertaining to his association with
the Sierra Club include correspondence and writings dating from his early membership in 1933; editorial
files from his work as editor of the
Sierra Club Bulletin; files created during his final
years as the club's Executive Director; and files created from his work as a board member after his
resignation from the directorship through the final years of his life. The records of Friends of the
Earth (FOE), which Brower founded in 1969 after leaving the Sierra Club, document conservation
campaigns, issues, FOE's extensive publishing program, and affiliated organizations, including the John
Muir Institute and Friends of the Earth Foundation, and the Conference on the Fate of the Earth. Also
included are records regarding the founding and projects of Earth Island Institute, including Brower's
campaign for Global Conservation, Preservation, and Restoration (CPR). Throughout all of the records
from conservation organizations is documentation of Brower's work to produce books in the Exhibit Format
style he pioneered at the Sierra Club, combining beautiful photography and powerful writing to bring
major conservation issues to the public, and his ongoing use of advertising in national papers to bring
attention to major causes. Other materials of significance include: diaries and correspondence
pertaining to Brower's early mountaineering, including the development of new techniques and equipment;
papers from his service in the 10th Mountain Division in World War II; and files from the many
organizations to which Brower belonged.
Brower's Correspondence, Series 1, includes both incoming and outgoing correspondence with family and
friends, mainly from his early days climbing in the Sierra Nevada, and during his work for the Yosemite
Park & Curry Co., his enlistment in the military, and his years working at UC Press and editing
Sierra Club Bulletin. Topics include mountaineering, conservation issues, political
events, and personal news. Correspondents include Dick and Doris Leonard, Ansel Adams, Eliot Porter,
George Rockwood, Hervey Voge, and other Sierra Club members; Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and
Earth Island staff; and figures such as Jimmy Carter, Horace Albright, Wallace Stegner, Edward Abbey,
and Jacques Cousteau among others, that Brower met during the course of his work.
Writings, Series 2, includes manuscripts and typescripts of books, including his memoirs, articles,
forewords and introductions to Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth books on a wide range of
conservation topics, and works by others.
Speeches, Appearances and Interviews, Series 3, includes typescripts of Brower's testimonies before
Congress on issues such as the Wilderness Act and the construction of dams on the Colorado River, and
speeches on a variety of conservation topics such as population, nuclear power and nuclear war,
wilderness, and Conservation, Preservation and Restoration (CPR) for the Earth.
Sierra Club, Series 4, consists of records from Brower's work on the Sierra Club board of directors
before and after his tenure as Sierra Club Executive Director. There are also files Brower created in
the course of defending himself against charges of fiscal mismanagement before his resignation in 1969,
and documents on the formation of the Active Bold Constructive (ABC) Sierra Club. The files created
while Brower served on the board of directors consist mainly of minutes and correspondence with other
board and committee members on a variety of conservation issues and on club administration. Topics
addressed include Zero Cut initiatives against logging, and various lawsuits related to club elections.
Friends of the Earth, Series 5, comprising the bulk of the collection, consists of the records of Friends
of the Earth, which Brower founded in 1969 and left in 1986. These records, taken from the FOE
headquarters, include materials from all of the conservation campaigns and issues the organization
spearheaded, including their stand against nuclear power and nuclear war; the International Project for
Soft Energy Paths; campaigns to save the whales; population control; SST (super sonic transport) and the
boycott against the tuna industry to save dolphins from fishing nets. Also included are extensive files
from the Publications Program, and administrative files, which include correspondence from branches,
regional representatives, and the Political Action Committee.
Earth Island Institute, Series 6, consists of files from Brower's founding and ongoing support of Earth
Island Institute, and includes project files for Brower Fund and its related projects, the Earth Island
Action Group, and files of Earth Island Network projects. There are significant files regarding the
Earth Summit, Glen Canyon Institute, and the organization's work with the United Nations.
An active member of many organizations, Organizational Participation and Membership, Series 7, consists
of files of materials related to nonprofits to which Brower belonged, boards on which Brower served, and
conferences he attended. Ranging from small groups to large organizations, they include groups such as
the American Alpine Club, Earth First! and the North Cascades Conservation Council.
The final series, Series 8, Personal Papers, consists of Brower's daily agendas, diaries, and journals,
dating from 1925 to 1995; various papers from his time spent in the military; various awards and honors;
and biographical articles and clippings.