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Finding Aid to the David Ross Brower Papers
BANC MSS 79/9 c  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Information
  • Scope and Content of Collection

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: David Ross Brower Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1924-2001
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 79/9 c
    Creator: Brower, David Ross, 1912-2000
    Extent: Number of containers: 30 boxes, 125 cartons, 4 oversize boxes, 20 oversize folders Linear feet: circa 173 linear feet
    Repository: 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

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    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: http://bancroft.berkeley.edu/reference/permissions.html 
    Restrictions also apply to digital representations of the original materials. Use of digital files is restricted to research and educational purposes.

    Preferred Citation

    [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.

    Related Collections

    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
    and
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 86/104 c
    Oral History:

    Title: 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.

    Separated Material

    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 Bancroft Library.

    Indexing Terms

    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
    Sierra Club
    Friends of the Earth
    Earth Island Institute
    Friends of the Earth--Publishing
    John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies
    League of Conservation Voters
    United States. Army. Infantry Division, 86th. Mountain Division, 10th
    Conference on the Fate of the Earth
    Nature Conservation--History
    National parks and reserves--California--Yosemite National Park
    Conservationists--California
    Environmentalists--California
    Mountaineering--California
    Mountaineering--California--Yosemite National Park
    Power resources--Environmental aspects
    Logging--Environmental aspects--California
    Nuclear energy--Environmental aspects
    Nuclear disarmament
    Wildlife conservation
    Population--Environmental aspects
    Yosemite National Park (Calif.)
    Diaries
    Addresses
    Manuscripts for publication

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    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.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Tanya Hollis, Elizabeth Stephens, and Jessica Lemieux; additions of 2007 by Alison E. Bridger.

    Biographical Information

    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 mountains.
    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 New York Times 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 multi﷓national and operates in sixty﷓eight 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 honorary degrees.
    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 Two Yosemites, Skis to the Skyland, Wilderness Alps of Stehekin, Skyland Trails of The Kings, and The Grand Canyon: Living River, Living Canyon. 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 (http://www.earthisland.org/brower/sub_bio.cfm)

    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, c.1971.

    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 the 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.