THE MOOD of the assembly was as hostile as the evening was hot. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the last speaker of the night, was accustomed to both. Crowded in the high school auditorium were several hundred landowners from an east Everglades community that owed its existence to levees and drainage canals. To those in attendance, Douglas was “the anti-Christ,” a sentimental environmentalist who was willing to trade their livelihoods and their homes to save birds and alligators and snakes. “Go back to Russia, granny,” someone shouted when her time came to speak. Against an eruption of boos and jeers, the ninety-one-year-old Douglas moved confidently down the center aisle to have her say before the county commissioners. Her task that night was to persuade the commission to limit construction on 155,000 acres of privately held land “of critical environmental concern.” Some people in the audience were appropriately defensive, for Douglas, the sanctified “Grandmother of the Everglades,” was known for capturing the ear of policymakers and, indeed, the hearts of the American people. After pulling the microphone down to her five-foot frame, she waited for a break in the escalating noise. “You damn butterfly chaser,” came a voice from above the din. Finally, she said, “Look. I’m an old lady. I’ve been here since eight o’clock. It’s now eleven. I’ve got all night, and I’m used to the heat.” In the end, the commissioners voted the way of the environmentalists.
The elderly woman who made it her civic duty to save the Everglades from drainage, development, and bureaucratic control was no simple butterfly chaser. Former Assistant Secretary of the Interior Nathaniel Reed described Douglas as “that tiny, slim, perfectly dressed, [but] utterly ferocious grande dame who can make a redneck shake in his boots.” Douglas had established herself as an expert on Florida history and the environment in 1947 when she published The Everglades: River of Grass, a path-breaking book that later became the green bible of Florida environmentalists. Even Douglas’s antagonists respected her knowledge and foresight. Through many years of lobbying, writing, educating, and cajoling, she helped raise the plight of the Everglades to the top of the national agenda, resulting in important state and federal legislation that signified changing environmental policy. Countless honors and awards acknowledged her work as a writer and environmentalist. The one that capped her public career was the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the government’s highest civilian honor, which she received at age 103. When she died in 1998, at 108, she had been one of the most celebrated environmental leaders in the last decades of the twentieth century. President Clinton, who once described Douglas as Mother Nature herself, said she had been “both an inspiration and mentor for a generation.”
Spanning much of the twentieth century, the long sweep of Douglas’s public life provides an ideal case study for American environmentalism and its rise as a movement out of the traditions of progressive conservation. By studying Douglas, one encounters the linkages between the modern environmental movement and early conservation impulses. Her life in a burgeoning Miami at the beginning of the twentieth century reveals the diverse nature of early conservation, including the influence of organized women and their myriad progressive reforms. Miami’s proximity to the Everglades, still an uncharted wilderness but one that was believed to offer great economic potential, forced civic-minded women to take stock of both urban and extra-urban environments. Interested in the city and the countryside, Douglas reconciled a utilitarian outlook with wilderness preservation. Her eventual shift away from a progressive-conservation understanding of the human relationship with the non-human world illustrates the role that ecology played in shaping modern environmental sensibilities. Her extraordinary resurrection in the last decades of her life as a public activist—and one more assertive than before—dramatizes the larger transformation in American environmentalism. One can find many of the characteristics that scholars identify with the contemporary movement in Douglas’s later life: the deployment of grass-roots activism, the lessons of ecological science, the rise of environmental justice, the admixture of anthropocentrism and biophilia, and the socialized sensibilities of womanhood.
From the moment she moved to Miami in 1915, at twenty-five, her life became forever enmeshed with the city and its wetland environs. Raised in Taunton, Massachusetts, and educated at Wellesley College, she saw south Florida as a refuge from the fallout of a bad marriage and the pain of her mother’s recent death. As she later testified, the “white light” of the subtropical sun, the “snappy golden and peacock weather,” and the palpable civic energy of a young Miami quickly buoyed her spirits. Her father, Frank Stoneman, whom she had not seen in fifteen years, had moved to Florida in the 1890s and started the city’s first morning daily newspaper, which became the Miami Herald. When he brought her onto the newspaper, she embarked on a writing career that lasted more than eighty years, including twenty devoted to short stories and over fifty to books. Four years older than Miami, she found her new city poised to expand its horizons. The south Florida city was an urban island of approximately eleven thousand residents in a frontier wilderness. Fanning out across the state, the Everglades made a natural boundary for the city’s westward growth in the days before successful drainage. Pine forests with a dense palmetto understory lay to the north, and to the south wetlands ran to the sea. The city’s hinterland was as wild as any nineteenth-century territory in the American West. Extended to Miami in 1896, the Florida East Coast Railroad opened the south Florida territory to unforeseen levels of growth and exploitation.
Although on a much smaller scale, Miami’s relationship to its hinterland was similar to that of Chicago in the nineteenth century, as William Cronon has described that region. At the same time that Miami’s growth benefited from agribusiness outside the city center, the railroad delivered an urban culture to rural south Florida. Commercial agriculture—sugar cane, citrus, and truck farming—developed out from the urban realm in lockstep with the city’s growth. One Miami land company, for example, sold ten thousand farms in ten-acre tracts in a six-year period before World War I. Eventually, small independent husbandmen would sell out to well-financed commercial farmers and growers, many with northern corporate parentage. Land companies, corporate farmers, and politicians alike believed that once the rich peaty Everglades soil was liberated from “the bondage of inundation,” as one observer put it, the region would offer unlimited possibilities for agricultural expansion and profit.
The growth of agribusiness depended on an affordable and reliable means to ship products, but if not for the city the railroad likely would have been longer in coming. Its owner, petroleum-tycoon-turned-land-speculator Henry Flagler, was in part lured by the profits of shipping products of the soil. But he wanted to transport people—vacationers and conventioneers—to and from Miami as much as anything else. Real-estate salespeople, who helped energize the local economy in the early decades, contributed to Flagler’s profits by carving out thousands of home lots on the eastern fringes of the Everglades and selling them to seasonal residents and permanently relocated northerners. Boosters found in south Florida a different kind of wealth of nature than that exploited in the Great West. They were selling a favorable climate, beautiful waterfront views, interminable sunshine, and a subtropical landscape of exotic birds, trees, and reptiles. Miami, indeed, was emerging as a metropolis of nature. Boosters surely realized this in their own way and on their own terms, but they lacked a sophisticated understanding of the essential connection of Miami’s assets to the environment outside the city’s limits. The breezes blowing off the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic assured pleasant temperatures year-round; the rains that cooled summer afternoons and watered the crops drifted in from offshore and from over the Everglades; the stick-legged birds that trimmed the city landscape and the sky above emanated from habitats elsewhere; and the mangroves that lowered waterfront property values spawned sea life that fed people and provided some with a livelihood or sport. The peril of the boosters’ ignorance was demonstrated most acutely in their attempts to drain the Everglades, first in the 1880s and then throughout much of the twentieth century. In pursuing that end, they were destroying the nucleus of the south Florida environment and endangering that which had been responsible for their city’s very existence.
The group that initiated the first attempts to save at least part of the Everglades was the Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs (FFWC). As many scholars have noted, years before women could vote, their civic and charitable organizations assumed an important role in progressive reform of the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Soon after moving to Miami, Douglas took note of the average woman’s club as a “self-produced university … a small, respectable pot, boiling away unnoticed, a stirring of minds, a spirit of inquiry, a new awareness of ideas.” Many women’s organizations, particularly the more influential white, middle- to upper-class groups, integrated social concerns—child welfare, school reform, and pure-food regulations—with conservation agendas. The national General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC) maintained a conservation department, and among its lobbying accomplishments were state and national laws to protect forests, waters, and wildlife. Gifford Pinchot, whose mother chaired the conservation committee of the Daughters of American Revolution, observed in 1910 that “few people realize what women have already done for conservation.” Women, as did men, may have associated the concept of conservation principally with rural spaces, but progressive reformers devoted much of their attention to the urban environment, which bore the burden of rapid growth and industrialization. It was not uncommon, for example, for a women’s poetry club to take up the issue of city beautification, and it was women generally who organized for improved sanitary conditions and smoke- and noise-abatement ordinances.
Founded in 1895, the FFWC addressed a broad range of issues at the state level. Its legislative agenda focused on compulsory school attendance, Seminole Indian welfare, public health, and improved roads. Some of the organization’s most successful efforts came out of its conservation committee, which devoted many years toward the establishment of Florida’s first forest reserves. The FFWC’s most notable accomplishment was the creation of Florida’s first state park. In 1916, the same year that Congress authorized the National Park Service, Florida legislators voted to set aside state land to match that donated by Mary Flagler, FFWC member and widow of Henry Flagler, to establish Royal Palm State Park. The legislature left the FFWC with the responsibility of developing and operating the park with its own funds. The organization then set out to accomplish two principal goals: to preserve a rare natural stand of royal palms and to provide protective habitat for wading birds of the Everglades.
Protecting plume birds was a major concern in the country when in 1905 the FFWC first floated the idea for an Everglades park. It was the year that plume hunters shot and killed Guy Bradley, a game warden whom the National Association of Audubon Societies had hired to protect the rookeries in Monroe County. Throughout the South, white and Indian poachers slaughtered wading birds, prized for their valuable plumage, by the tens of thousands. Bird feathers, and even whole birds, were all the rage in women’s hats, and for decades poaching in Florida’s wild country fed a veritable market of destruction for profit and vanity. The GFWC’s first petition to Congress, in 1896, supported an initially unsuccessful bill to outlaw trade in ornamental bird feathers. In Florida, a number of FFWC members were officers in the state Audubon Society, which eight women and six men founded in 1900. A year later, Florida lawmakers for the second time strengthened bird-protection legislation originally enacted in 1877. Despite passage of state and federal laws, the efforts of the Audubon Society, and the establishment of Royal Palm Park, the slaughter of plume birds continued until the 1940s. According to some estimates, poaching and habitat encroachment eventually reduced the Everglades bird population by 90 percent.
Douglas quickly gravitated to Miami’s women’s clubs for initiation into their world of civic activism. Having gone to work as a staff reporter and the society-page editor for the Miami Herald, she was recruited to coordinate publicity for the FFWC and the Florida Equal Suffrage Association. She also traveled to the state capitol in Tallahassee in 1916 with a seasoned group of club women to lobby for woman’s suffrage. In Miami, she and her fellow club women questioned the values and wealth of a city that ignored its social responsibilities to the poverty stricken while it fixated on growth. The local powers had managed to segregate blacks and the poor from the rest of the citizenry, and the lack of health codes allowed city leaders to deny the most basic services to some neighborhoods for half a century. In 1922, Douglas organized a fund that provided milk to needy babies. She was writing a daily column for the Herald at the time and used commentary and even poetry to agitate for improved conditions in child welfare, public education, and sanitation. She simultaneously blasted corrupt politics and government, convict leasing, and the trade tariff, which she said amounted to a heartless burden on European cities struggling to rebuild from the rubble of war.
Douglas’s social concerns were shaped by family history, a liberal education, and personal experience. Although she rejected any religious affiliation and died a self-proclaimed agnostic, she credited her humanitarian values to her Quaker roots on her father’s side of the family. She appreciated the Society of Friends’ support of woman’s suffrage, and she admired her own Quaker grandparents’ principled stand against slavery. In her autobiography, she described the Quaker Levi Coffin, the reputed president of the Underground Railroad, as the ancestor who influenced her most as a “free thinker and activist.” She also attributed her expanding social consciousness to her professors at Wellesley College. One, Emily Greene Balch, a Quaker passivist and future Nobel Peace Prize recipient, introduced her students to slum conditions in Boston. When Douglas later served as a Red Cross correspondent touring Europe after World War I, she once again encountered human misery. She subsequently discovered similar conditions in Miami’s urban environment.
Douglas’s direct involvement with women’s clubs tapered off when she left the Red Cross and returned to the Miami Herald in 1920. While she shared her club sisters’ interests in social reform and conservation, her views on sexuality were comparatively more extreme. Supporting the Nineteenth Amendment had been consistent with the position of women’s organizations generally, but when the National Women’s Party first proposed the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923, Douglas’s open endorsement distinguished her from the many club women who preferred to stand upon a pedestal. The whole issue of separate spheres for the sexes made her skeptical. “It’s a little bit late in the day for men to object that women are getting outside their proper sphere,” she wrote in 1922. It is no coincidence that many of Douglas’s short stories feature fiercely independent and determined women who have unburdened themselves from a man’s possession. Douglas wanted women to have the freedom to chose their own path in life, whether motherhood, a career, or both lay at the end. After her failed marriage, which she valued as a learning experience, she was unwilling to submit to the financial support of a man, and she chose for herself the life of a single, professional woman.
As a journalist with enough latitude to focus on ideals that were important to her, she engaged in a sort of professional activism. Similar to her club women counterparts, the expansive list of social reforms to which she gave press included conservation. Just as there were social benefits to reap from woman’s suffrage, honest government, well-nourished children, and an educated citizenry, there was enriched life to come from a healthy and unspoiled environment. In the city, social issues more often than not were tied to environmental problems. In a 1923 column, she wrote: “Child welfare ought really to cover all sorts of topics, such as better water and sanitation and good roads, and clean streets and public parks and playgrounds.” Miami’s runaway growth and land-boom of the 1920s, which seemed to marginalize quality-of-life concerns, irritated her. In response, she used her pen to lobby for zoning ordinances, public parks, tree planting, and landscaped boulevards. Her concept of what made a beautiful and livable city was suggestive of the City Beautiful movement and the principles of the period’s leading urban reformers such as Jane Addams, Mira Lloyd Dock, and Alice Hamilton, and landscape architects such as Frederick Law Olmsted, John Nolen, and Beatrix Farrand. No Florida city had yet embraced the planning movement that landscape artists tended to endorse, but Douglas hoped that Miami would. Ultimately, she was disappointed. “I could argue that land should be set aside for parks, while land was cheap, I could talk about this new thing, zoning, and the newer and hazier thing, city planning, little realizing myself, as the tide of automobiles thickened in the narrow streets, that no planning of that day could have foreseen what the automobile would do to the entire country.”
Although it is unclear from existing records, Douglas was likely aware of the work of Olmsted and Nolen if not the less-well-known Farrand, whose pioneering work opened the profession to women. Douglas had a curious mind, and she read voraciously and widely. From the academic journal Social Forces she obtained a deeper understanding of regionalism, the idea that constructive relationships between cultures and their natural surroundings should be maximized to dramatize regional distinctiveness and the diverse whole of American culture. An officer in the Miami Women’s Club had introduced Douglas to regionalism, and after studying it further she promoted it in her column. The subtropical world of south Florida was the primary source of its distinctiveness, she wrote on numerous occasions. From the unique and natural, the right kind of architects—developers, engineers, and landscape designers, those who approached their professions as art—could transform Miami into one of the great cities of the world. It was a simple matter of south Florida’s transplanted northern population living with its new environment rather than imposing on it ways of another region. “All we need, really, is a change from a near frigid to a tropical attitude of mind.”
Douglas claimed to be pragmatic in her views of humans and their relationship with the natural world. The needless destruction of plant and animal life simply carried no social value. Any landscape was an open portfolio of natural beauty and civilization’s most accessible and important aesthetic resource, an underutilized model for human creative talent. Taking a Quaker stewardship view of nature, Douglas loved creatures of the wild, from the low-slung sand crab to the stilted seabird. Yet at the same time that she made a “plea for wider justice” for all living things and rejected the idea of lower and higher life forms, she was not above reducing species to categories of good and bad.
Her early values toward both the urban and extra-urban environments define her, like her club women counterparts, as a progressive conservationist. Although she celebrated the abundance, beauty, and opportunity of Florida, she recognized that her frontier region lacked the immensity of the American West and that the sustenance of civilization required exploitation, leaving a cultural imprint on nature. She lacked the romantic and religious associations that might have aligned her with the less-pronounced preservationist strain of the early conservation movement. In telling moments of self-reflection, for example, she regretted that her mind was given too much to scientific and analytical reasoning, more rational than emotional, for her own creative needs as a fiction writer. It made sense then that progressive conservation appealed to her pragmatic inclinations. When she looked at the city streets below her newspaper office, she envisioned scientifically managed growth that allowed for green space and improved the quality of life for all residents. When she turned west toward the country, she accepted rational exploitation—the sustainable use of resources—that benefited the largest constituency possible.
Thinking within the prevailing intellectual contexts of progressivism and regionalism, Douglas believed that the economic promise of her city was tied to the distinctiveness of the hinterland, especially the Everglades. She did not so much oppose the utility of development as she did the reckless spending on drainage projects and the indifference to the wholesale destruction of the swamp. “The wealth of south Florida, but even more important, the meaning and significance of south Florida,” she wrote in 1923, “lies in the black muck of the Everglades and the inevitable development of this country to be the great tropic agricultural center of the world.” Consistent with her regionalist vision, she wanted to see not the advance of traditional agriculture but the cultivation of “lavish” tropical growths of the kind that her friend David Fairchild, a local entomologist turned botanist, was introducing to the area. In her column, garden club speeches, and even in River of Grass, she sang Fairchild’s praises for importing plants that enhanced the tropical appearance of south Florida, a place that was, in truth, subtropical. In later years, exotic plants would be identified as a metastasizing floral cancer consuming the Everglades ecosystem.
At the same time that she supported agriculture, an industry that would ultimately become her chief nemesis, she lauded a great engineering feat that unified the vastness of the region into a more accessible space. After engineers in the 1920s began dynamiting and dredging their way across the Everglades to complete the Tamiami Trail, Douglas dedicated two odes to the progress symbolized in the U.S. highway that would connect Miami to Tampa. She justified its construction with the proclamation that the Everglades “sever” the civilizations of Florida’s east and west coasts, which more properly should become “one, hence, forever.” As in the case of agricultural development, she later would change her position on the “greatness” of the highway that formed a veritable dam against the flow of the river of grass.
Although Douglas had not taken part in the creation of Royal Palm State Park, she always supported a protected space in the Everglades. At one point, she wrote but never published a story, “Women and Birds,” that alludes to the prodigious female struggle behind the park’s founding and development. When the FFWC in 1929 offered Royal Palm to the federal government as part of a proposal to create an Everglades national park, Douglas was invited to join the Tropic Everglades National Park Association, which was charged with turning the proposal into a reality. Various women of the FFWC and Florida Congresswoman Ruth Bryan Owen, who cosponsored the bill to establish Everglades National Park, fed the stream of women around the country who helped to shape the national park system both as advocates and naturalists. Why Douglas was chosen to serve on the association over others who had been actively involved with Royal Palm Park is unclear. Her introduction to the Everglades had come only nine years earlier, five years after she moved to Miami, and other than fishing on Sunday afternoons in a drainage canal, her exposure to the Everglades had been limited to views from a distance. Her first real immersion occurred when a congressional delegation, state officials, conservationists, and members of the park association spent two days boating and hiking through the Everglades (stumbling upon plume hunters at one point) and sailing overhead in a dirigible.
The 1930 excursion inspired her first important publication in defense of the non-human world. Appearing in a 1931 issue of Saturday Evening Post, “Wings” expressed alarm over the illegal trade in bird feathers that lingered after a change in hat fashion slowed their demand. Two of her most popular short stories followed the trip as well. The 1905 killing of Guy Bradley provided the plot for “Plumes” (1930), the story of a convict turned bird protector who fears that his own lifeless body will end up in the tangle of mangroves. In “A Flight of Ibis” (1935), the protagonist is a sympathetic photographer who uses camera flash and film to save a colony of birds from would-be poachers. The two stories offered Douglas’s most powerful evocation of the human abuse of nature to that date. She set most of her stories in south Florida because she believed the regional environment lent them an original quality. But even as she brought attention to the indigenous beauty that so enthralled her, nature remained as a backdrop to human stories. In a similar vein, independent women frequent her stories, and yet a gendered sensibility never distinguishes her depictions of nature. Her style lent itself only slightly to that of “literary domestics,” who illuminated maternal behavior and domestic life among plants and animals. She was influenced more by conventional nature writers like William Henry Hudson, the Argentine-born author of Green Mansions, whose biography she later spent twenty years writing.
Two decades of writing short stories for magazines followed Douglas’s departure from the newspaper in 1923 and served as a prelude to her most important literary achievement: The Everglades: River of Grass. She was in the midst of writing a novel about a south Florida homesteading couple who persevere against the “beauty and terror” of both nature and humanity when she was approached by her friend Hervey Allen, editor of Rinehart Books’ Rivers of America series. She had planned for the novel to serve as her transition into book writing. But a proposal from Allen to contribute to his series intervened and she instead produced River of Grass. Enthusiastic reviews greeted its fall 1947 release, and it soon made the New York Herald Tribune’s “What America is Reading” list. In the same newspaper, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings recommended Douglas’s book “to all readers concerned with … the great relations of man to nature.” In a review for the Atlanta Journal, Harnett T. Kane wrote of Douglas, “few Americans have ever written so sensitively, so skillfully, so magnificently of any part of their land.” River of Grass changed not only her literary career; the process of creating the book transformed her life in unforeseen ways, and its publication lifted her to the crest of a wave that carried the country into a new era of environmental awareness.
Douglas spent several years researching and writing River of Grass, consulting with experts in both the physical and social sciences. She relied heavily on the advice of Garald Parker of the U.S. Geological Survey, who described himself as a “geologist-biologist-hydrologist.” At the time that he met Douglas, Parker was engaged in pioneering research into groundwater flow in south Florida; the limestone rock basin on which the Everglades floated; “soil-water-plant relationships”; and the ecological impact of development, agriculture, and drainage. His Everglades research would yield more than forty scientific papers and reports, some of which served as Douglas’s introduction to ecology. She began to understand the Everglades as one large hydrological system that extended to Lake Okeechobee and beyond to “the lakes and marshes” of central Florida. Parker’s work, Douglas wrote his wife years later, was “really the basis for a great deal of my knowledge of the area.” It also influenced the structure of the natural history section of her book, which contains subtitles such as “The Grass,” “The Water,” “The Rock,” and “Life on the Rock.”
When Douglas met Parker, ecology was still an inchoate field of study, its insights just beginning to take hold in the scientific community. Although Aldo Leopold’s 1949 A Sand County Almanac is credited with shifting the gaze of the conservation community to ecological concepts, River of Grass appeared nearly two years earlier. The two books prompted readers to look at nature through new lenses, with Leopold advocating a revised land ethic and Douglas offering a redefinition of the Everglades. Douglas’s plea for a more ecologically informed relationship was less explicit than Leopold’s. She in fact devoted more space in her book to the human history of the Everglades than to natural history. Yet the regionalist philosophy that had long before shaped her own land ethic remained influential. Throughout her narrative, she encouraged readers to see the reciprocal exchanges between culture and nature as the basis for the integrity of place. In south Florida, Douglas argued, using the language of ecology, “the old subtle balance … had been destroyed.” Some students of her magnum opus have equated Douglas’s open contempt for human “greed,” “inertia,” and “foolishness” as a tone that anticipated by fifteen years Rachel Carson’s memorable statements in Silent Spring that the “`control of nature’ is a phrase conceived in arrogance” and in that nature did not exist solely “for the convenience of man.” Although highly praised for its literary achievements, River of Grass’s greatest contribution is an ecological one. In prose that appealed to a general audience, Douglas portrayed the Everglades as the lifeblood of an entire regional ecosystem. She was in fact the first person to conceptualize the Everglades as a living river, rather than a fetid swamp, one that flowed from Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay, around islands and through cypress groves and sawgrass. “That was,” her friend and fellow writer Helen Muir declared, “her genius.”
The idea of a river of grass caught on. Douglas had the good fortune to have her book released a few weeks before President Truman dedicated Everglades National Park on 6 December 1947. Congress passed legislation in 1934 to create the park, but a lack of appropriations delayed its actual establishment for thirteen years. By the time of the dedication ceremony, Douglas’s metaphor gave a new visual reference and meaning to the Everglades environment. Florida’s senior senator, Claude Pepper, spoke of the “river of grass” in his speech at the ceremony, and newspapers soon adopted the phrase to affirm the park’s distinctiveness. Swamps historically had been devalued as wastelands in the Western mind, but rivers had always been attached with a commercial or romantic importance. The River of Grass was recognized for yet another reason. If Everglades National Park was unique in kind, it was equally so in origins. Not only was it the first national park to honor a wetland; it was the first established to preserve a “treasury of biological wealth,” whereas with its predecessors, Congress sought to safeguard extraordinary geological features.
One might reasonably conclude that the existence of Everglades signaled a shifting in environmental thought evident in A Sand County Almanac. Yet developments unfolding at the time of the park dedication eventually showed that while one government agency was receptive to new ideas another remained wedded to the traditional policy of nature control. After a massive September hurricane forced the waters of Lake Okeechobee over its rim and surrounding levees, causing untold damage in agriculture and personal property, nearly every county in Florida drafted resolutions demanding adequate flood control. Letters from voters concurring with this demand poured into the offices of Florida’s U.S. senators. Pointing out that more than 2,000 people had died in Everglades floods since 1900, the Miami Herald proclaimed that the “Everglades remain untamed.” Soon after the 1947 hurricane, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced a comprehensive plan for flood control and water conservation. Even the author of River of Grass endorsed the need to triumph over rebellious nature. Her conversion from a progressive conservationist to an ecologically enlightened environmentalist was not yet complete. In later years, Douglas described Corps engineers as men with lingering childhood fetishes for playing with mud, but in 1948 she put her faith in their project. In an unpublished article, she hailed it as “second in all our history only to the majestic scope of the Panama Canal.”
Ten years later, after settling into a productive career of book writing, Douglas published an exhaustively researched history of hurricanes, a phenomenon of nature that humans had failed to control and, as she made clear, one that shaped the course of human history. Hurricane (1958) was the third of ten fiction and non-fiction books that succeeded River of Grass. Her life during that period remained busy. In the late 1940s, she served as an officer and president of a “slum” clearance committee, which forced a change in local sanitation codes. In 1950, she became a charter member of the first American Civil Liberties Union chapter organized in the South. She assumed the editorship of the University of Miami Press for a brief period and then tried her hand at running her own press, which she called Hurricane House. When she was seventy-six, the Wellesley College alumnae association awarded her a fellowship to begin research on the W. H. Hudson biography. By the late 1960s, she had reached a point in life in which she felt the desire, but not the pressure, to publish.
Just as she was slowing her gait, however, public awareness of environmental problems was escalating. Ecological disasters as well as industrial air and water pollution, by no means new problems, were exacerbated by modern technologies and a status-oriented consumer society that within two generations would nearly double in population and grow increasingly materialistic. In counteraction to its own consumption-growth tendencies, new national and grassroots organizations, typically white and middle class, invested their energy in improving standards of public health. Activists still sought an aesthetically pleasing environment, but now they framed it as a manifestation of healthful living. One goal could not logically be separated from the other; nor could the urban from the extra-urban, or social justice from environmental abuse. Leopold and Carson tried to convey the ideas of the human-nature nexus and the seamless web of life. Even so, the older, well-established conservation organizations, such as the Sierra Club, National Audubon Society, and National Wildlife Federation, were slow to range out beyond wilderness preservation until a broadening constituency of invigorated citizens forced their hand. The measurable impact of local citizens’ groups—by virtue of their small size, insufficient finances, virtually all-volunteer staffs, and ephemeral nature—was limited. Successful outcomes were generally, though not always, left to national groups, which were turning professional, growing exponentially, and acquiring new sources of funding. The grassroots organization that Douglas founded would prove to be exceptional by turning a local issue into one of national importance.
A four-year drought in the Everglades, continued ecological insults, and bureaucratic bungling inspired Douglas’s complete conversion to modern environmentalist strategies and goals. Long dry spells were part of Everglades history, and for centuries the indigenous flora and fauna had survived natural extremes. But in the 1960s, as writer Wallace Stegner observed firsthand, in words reminiscent of River of Grass, “inertia, conflict of interests, competing land uses, natural disasters, and human mismanagement have combined to place an incomparable million-acre preserve in danger of imminent extinction.” Post-World War II population expansion pressured the Everglades on every flank. “You were just hurled along by the force and impetus of this population [growth],” said Douglas, as the region approached six million by century’s end. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers kept the population dry with its flood control project, which resulted in the construction of some 720 miles of levees, 1,000 miles of canals, and 200 water-control devices. The last phase of the project converted the meandering Kissimmee River, the main watershed artery to Lake Okeechobee, into a formless drainage canal. The labyrinthian system gave state bureaucrats at the South Florida Water Management District control over crucial aspects of Everglades ecology. By the end of the 1960s, the project rivaled the Tennessee Valley Authority in size, spiraled to a billion dollars in costs, and continued without a planned completion. One of the Corps’ creations was the 1,000-square-mile Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), which was almost twice the original size of the national park. After the drought hit, the water management district diverted water to the EAA that would otherwise feed the Everglades and the national park, while the Corps simultaneously pumped billions of gallons of Lake Okeechobee water to the ocean. Outside of rain, the park received no hydration for four years, and yet the EAA never went without. Plans for oil exploration added to the region’s problems. After the Park Service and environmentalists won an allotment of water for the park, they also managed to keep petroleum companies at bay. Environmentalists then turned their attention to an aggressively lobbied proposal to locate a jetport in the middle of the Everglades.
Everglades environmentalists, a loose group with no organizational base, turned to Douglas in 1969. They believed that her credibility as the popular author of River of Grass and as a longtime resident of south Florida would provide a “formidable force” in their battle against the jetport. They also hoped that she would attract support from influential citizens’ groups, such as women’s clubs. To help, Douglas created Friends of the Everglades (FOE), organizing chapters in the counties surrounding the Everglades and running the operation with secretaries from her home office full time. FOE quickly launched a public-education campaign against the jetport. Concurrently, future Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson leaked a Department of the Interior report predicting that the jetport literally would kill the Everglades, and former Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, hired as a consultant by the Dade County Port Authority, recommended its relocation. The Nixon administration responded by withdrawing funding for the project. The defeat of the jetport was FOE’s first victory in its larger mission to undo the damage of the Corps and agribusiness.
Douglas brought grassroots organizational experience, personal historical knowledge, and the moral authority of a pioneer Floridian to the new age of activism. Within a few years, FOE had nearly three thousand members from thirty-eight states and provided an anchor for a number of environmental coalitions. The accumulated problems of fifty years and an enlarged capacity to subdue nature had taken their toll on the Everglades. All combined to render old progressive philosophies obsolete if not also responsible for the current state of things. “Conservation is now a dead word,” Douglas declared in 1982. “You can’t conserve what you haven’t got. That’s why we [FOE] are for restoration.” Douglas was expressing a central concept in a new age of environmentalism that included Superfund cleanups, forest restoration, resource recovery, and predator reintroduction. Persuading the public and policymakers to “repair” the Everglades, as FOE expressed the concept, required not just educating them in the fundamentals of ecology but backing such a plan with predictive scientific data.
Douglas teamed up with arguably the best-equipped scientist in Florida to translate those data into policy change. A professor of applied ecology at the University of Miami, Arthur Marshall had been a fellow protagonist with Douglas in the jetport struggle. Twenty-nine years her junior, he belonged to a generation of politically minded Florida scientists who found role models in Leopold and Carson and who in the 1970s were instrumental in using the authority of science to prevent a number of ecological blunders. Their own spiritual forbears in Florida history were naturalists, including Charles Torrey Simpson, John Kunkel Small, and Thomas Barbour, who in the early twentieth century were predicting environmental doom in works with titles such as From Eden to Sahara, That Vanishing Eden, and “In Memorium.” An inspiration herself, Douglas gave the last chapter in River of Grass the foreboding title, “The Eleventh Hour.” A generation later, Marshall earned the sobriquet “prophet” for creating predictive models that accurately determined the fate of ecosystems. In 1983, he gave the Everglades twenty years to survive.
While his naturalist predecessors lamented the eventual loss of a wilderness conceptually detached from the city, Marshall saw the urban and extra-urban environments as a connected system. The mushrooming city obviously had imposed stresses on the Everglades, but the altered hinterland in turn affected urban life. Marshall spoke in terms of a large-scale ecosystem of water, wildlife, and weather. Tying everything together was his “rain machine” thesis, which attributed south Florida’s extraordinary droughts and micro-climatic changes to decreased evaporation resulting from wetlands drainage and urban sprawl. Douglas looked to Marshall to teach her about the most current findings in ecology, just as she had depended on Garald Parker three decades earlier. Having argued in 1947 that the city was dependent upon “the store of water in the permeable rock” of the Everglades, she latched onto his “rain machine” thesis, and FOE published a pamphlet entitled, “Who Knows the Rain—The Nature and Origin of Rainfall in South Florida.” She also preached the gospel of ecological doom in countless press interviews; before regulatory boards and the state legislature; and in talks to citizens’ groups, university audiences, and women’s clubs. If current policy persisted, went her refrain, the Everglades would dry up and south Florida would transform from a humid to an arid region.
Douglas found a seemingly strange bedfellow in another person, Johnny Jones, head of the Florida Wildlife Federation. A master plumber by vocation, Jones possessed an artisan’s understanding of the Corps’ colossal Everglades system. By avocation, he was an avid hunter—a hobby that displeased Douglas. For more than a century, women had been trying to save animals from various enemies, including hunters. Douglas had been an early participant in that tradition and helped usher it into the contemporary movement by adding the alligator, Everglades deer, and Florida panther to her perpetual concern for wading birds. Heir to a different tradition, Jones presided over a state chapter of one of the older conservation groups, linked to an early faction of American conservation when sportsmen organized for game preserves and incidently wilderness protection; at the same time, he personified the diverse interests in contemporary environmentalism. Like Douglas, Jones understood the ecological significance of wildlife habitat, but he also believed, for example, in hunting deer to reduce their population in distressed environments for the benefit of the animals and their habitat. Douglas, by contrast, distrusted wildlife management just as she did water management, arguing that harvesting deer reduced the principal food source for the endangered panther and tampered with natural ecological balances. Deep down, however, she knew that little remained natural about ecological balances in the controlled environment of the Everglades, and she respected Jones as an expert lobbyist. He and his organization came with a successful track record, which included sponsorship of the state’s endangered species act and an environmentally sensitive lands-purchase law.
Jones formed a triumvirate with Douglas and Marshall. They first joined forces after Marshall created WATER!, a coalition organization of fifteen citizen’s groups. With Marshall providing the scientific research and knowledge, Jones lobbying behind the scenes, and Douglas chairing the organization and generating publicity and disseminating educational information, the three worked to implement the so-called Marshall plan, an eighteen-point blueprint for the repair of the Everglades. Their first major triumph came in 1976, when lawmakers passed a bill, written mostly by Jones, mandating the development of measures to restore the oxbow flow of the Kissimmee River. In 1983, Governor Bob Graham unveiled an ambitious $100-million “Save Our Everglades” program to “reestablish the natural ecological functions of the Everglades.” Soon afterward, he and Douglas shoveled Kissimmee River dirt in a ceremony kicking off the initial phase of dechannelization.
Not everyone celebrated the moment. Wealthy and politically powerful sugar planters, known collectively as Big Sugar, put up a solid wall of resistance to cleaning up Lake Okeechobee and restoring the natural flow of the Everglades. Sugar plantations consumed nearly 500,000 acres in the EAA, forming an artificial and polluted barrier between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. The water conservation end of the Corps’ flood-control project gave priority to agricultural interests, and for years Big Sugar and cattle ranchers dominated the board of the water management district. In 1979, FOE and the Florida Wildlife Federation sued the water management district and the Florida Sugar Cane League to stop the backpumping of fertilizer- and pesticide-laden water into the nearly eutrophic Lake Okeechobee, which flowed into the Everglades. The suit was just one battle in a protracted war in which Douglas made herself into a “public relation nightmare” for Big Sugar, a war to which Douglas would never see a victorious end. Eighteen months before her death, for example, Big Sugar spent $35 million to defeat a constitutional amendment mandating a one-cent-per-pound sugar tax to fund the cleanup of the Everglades system.
If Big Sugar was willing to exploit nature in the blind pursuit of profit, Douglas recognized that it was equally exploitive of farm labor. Although environmental concerns dominated her public agenda after forming FOE, she never lost sight of the kind of social issues that had shaped her conservation views decades earlier. Big Sugar was notorious for exposing its underpaid labor, mostly West Indian immigrants, to harsh and dangerous working and living conditions. Douglas had done research in the West Indies for a 1952 Saturday Review article, and she saw firsthand the abject conditions of the working people there. She blamed those conditions in part on U.S. government import protections that eliminated foreign competition while generating a pool of cheap offshore labor. Just as trade tariffs hurt European economies after World War I, import measures—tightened after Fidel Castro took control of sugar-rich Cuba—crippled the economically important sugar industry in Caribbean countries. In search of work, West Indians came to cut cane in south Florida. In 1947, Douglas prefigured the latter-day concepts of environmental justice in River of Grass. She related the white aggression against Everglades Indians of the nineteenth century with the destruction of nature and the twentieth-century subjugation of migrant farm workers, mostly black, with the commercial reclamation of Everglades wetlands. The experience of cane workers was an all-too-familiar link to the earlier history. Douglas lent her name and support to Florida Rural Legal Services, an organization that was dedicated to protecting the welfare of migrant farm laborers, particularly sugar cane workers in the inland town of Belle Glade. In a 1985 letter to Governor Graham urging him to establish a committee to survey the conditions of migrant workers, Douglas wrote, “I feel greatly at fault in not having made a loud public protest about Belle Glade before this.”
Douglas did, as she always had, make a loud roar on the issue of women’s rights. Not long after she organized Friends of the Everglades, the former suffragist also emerged as an outspoken champion of the Equal Rights Amendment, testifying before the state legislature for its adoption fifty-nine years after her first visit to Tallahassee on behalf of suffrage. Then as later, environmental conditions and social welfare were for her two parts of one agenda. In a 1974 speech to the American Association of University Women in which she endorsed the ERA, Douglas easily could have been speaking fifty years earlier when she told her audience to think of the health of the environment—its air and water quality—as they would think of the cleanliness of their home: “The problem of the environment is the extension of good housekeeping of the thinking woman.” Consistent with modern feminist thought and the message of many national women’s liberation organizations, the idea of Earth as home reflected a belief in an enlightened sex rather than an endorsement of the domesticated-woman stereotype. Douglas did not go as far as radical ecofeminists and equate the treatment of nature with the male treatment of women. But she believed that as a historically dominated group, women possessed a common-sense understanding of qualities of life, whether it be human or non-human life, and the interconnectedness of those qualities. She was surrounded by women who sustained the unbroken thread to earlier generations that cared about the environment and sensed the human-nature nexus. Reminiscent of the earlier days, the conservation department of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club was a co-litigant in the 1979 suit brought against Big Sugar. At any given time, most of the officers of the FOE were female, and when Douglas stepped down as president at one hundred, her successor was a woman.
As for the rights of nature, Douglas never saw the advantage of crusading for that reason alone. She was biophilic but not biocentric. “My opponents accuse me of caring more about birds and fish than people, but they can’t prove that,” she declared. She simply believed in balance: “If we can save water for people, we can save it for the birds and fish, too.” She understood the health of the environment and all its creatures as a barometer for the physical—as well as the moral—well being of humanity. Like other middle-class Americans who provided the mass support for the contemporary environmental movement, Douglas was a creature of suburban living, one who had always refrained from communing closely with the wild. She hardly ever visited the Everglades. “To be a friend of the Everglades is not necessarily to spend time wandering around out there,” she wrote in her autobiography, when she was ninety-six. “It’s too buggy, too wet, too generally inhospitable.” Yet like Marshall, she recognized that urban life was inextricably linked to the extra-urban, that Miami’s existence was dependent on its rural hinterland. As go the Everglades, protected or destroyed, so go the sustaining elements of human life.
Douglas’s own life was extraordinary. When she died in 1998, she left a legacy that others proceeded to build upon. But she never accepted the illusion of victory. “No one is satisfied with their life’s work,” she said the week of her 104th birthday. “There is always the need to carry on. The most important thing is to prepare competent people to follow you.” The future of the Everglades indeed remained uncertain even after President Clinton signed the highly touted $7.8-billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Act in December 2000. The Kissimmee River had not yet been fully reconverted; an $88-million restoration project that Congress approved in 1989 for the eastern section of Everglades National Park remained unfinished; and while one state agency spent millions of dollars to remove phosphorous berm from Lake Okeechobee, the water management district continued backpumping agricultural runoff into it. Although Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt claimed that the signing of the 2000 Restoration Act opened “an entirely new chapter in conservation history,” Audubon magazine speculated that the project had “no better chance of being launched than any of the previous attempts to save the Everglades.” Douglas was no longer alive, but her organization issued a resolution criticizing the project in part because it was, as Babbitt called it, conservation. It ensured the continued existence of the EAA, gave too much discretion to the Corps and the water management district, and, in essence, left humans in control of nature.
Douglas’s place in the history of American environmentalism is less ambiguous than the future of the Everglades. She lived and illuminated the flux of history in the course of a century. Evident in her own life experiences is the vitality of the female dimension in environmental history. She was a product of women’s early realm of organized activism, which included wilderness protection and a healthy urban environment. She was not so much a prophet as a messenger, who delivered the prevailing ideas of conservation to her newspaper readers and sounded in her short stories the warning of wildlife destruction. She navigated the changing currents in twentieth-century environmentalism and exhorted others to do the same, first with River of Grass and then as a grassroots leader with national visibility. She synthesized into activism the lessons of the emergent field of ecological science, all the while demonstrating her own conversion. If conservation and wildlife protection—the dominant ideas in early environmentalism—once informed her consciousness, ecology eventually became her touchstone. Nature and humans were not distinct, but part of one expansive, interconnected system. The urban environment, that of human species, was ecologically bound with the extra-urban environment, that of non-human species.
When Douglas died, the environmental consciousness of Americans was coming around to this way of thinking, and Douglas, whose life was a bridge across two eras, had helped force this turn. Her early life provided the personal building blocks that gave form to the values, beliefs, and activities of her senior years, and along the way she discarded that which was no longer useful, kept that which remained pertinent, and adopted that which fit new purposes. In a parallel truth, early twentieth-century conservation impulses, in all their varied dimensions, were a necessary thrust for the American transition to contemporary environmentalism.
Jack E. Davis is a Fulbright scholar at the University of Jordan in Amman, and associate professor of history and director of environmental studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The author of Race Against Time: Culture and Separation in Natchez Since 1930, he is working on a social and environmental history of Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Everglades.
1. “It’s Never Too Late for Anything,” undated Miami News clipping in folder 11, box 39, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Papers, Archives and Special Collections Department, Otto G. Richter Library, University of Miami, Coral Gables (hereafter cited as MSD); “The Elocutioner,” undated Miami Herald clipping in MSD, folder 12, box 39; Interview with Joe Podgor, 10 August 2000. A similar rendition of this event is found in perhaps the most insightful popular article on Douglas and the Everglades, by Steve Yates, “Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Glades Crusade,” Audubon 85 (March 1983): 112–27.
2. USA Today, 17 May 1998; Miami Herald, 14, 15 May 1998; New York Times, 15 May 1998; Stephen W. Byers, “Don’t Mess with Her Wetlands,” New York Times Magazine 148 (3 January 1999), 46; Valerie Gladstone, “Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” Ms. (January/February 1989), 67–68.
3. Early environmental historians such as Samuel P. Hays and Roderick Nash tended to emphasize discontinuities between the conservation movement and the modern environmental movement. But more recently, scholars have leaned toward the position of Robert Gottlieb, who has argued that the two eras are more closely related than historians originally observed. See Samuel P. Hays, “From Conservation to Environment: Environmental Politics in the United States Since World War II,” Environmental Review 6 (Fall 1982), 14–29; Roderick Nash, American Environmentalism: Readings in Conservation History, 3rd ed. (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990), 187–89; Robert Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1993).
4. Raymond A. Mohl, “Miami: The Ethnic Cauldron,” in Sunbelt Cities: Politics and Growth Since World War II, ed. Richard M. Bernard and Bradley R. Rice (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1983), 59; Edward N. Akin, Flagler: Rockefeller Partner and Florida Baron (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992); Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “When You and I Were Young, Miami,” Miami Herald Tropic Magazine (November 5, 1967): 16–22, 36; Jack E. Davis, ed., The Wide Brim: Early Poems and Ponderings of Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001), 57. The best narrative of Douglas’s life is her 1987 autobiography, written with John Rothchild, Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River (Sarasota, Fla.: Pineapple Press, 1987).
5. J. E. Dovell, “The Everglades—Florida’s Frontier,” Part 1, Economic Leaflets 6 (April 1947): 1; William Cronon, Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West (New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1993), 5–19, 23–259 and generally; Christopher F. Meindl, “Past Perceptions of the Great American Wetland: Florida’s Everglades during the Early Twentieth Century, Environmental History 5 (July 2000): 381, 385–90. Records of many of the early land companies can be found on the “Reclaiming the Everglades” website, produced by the Publication of Archival Library and Museum Materials, State University System of Florida, http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim.
6. Dovell, “The Everglades—Florida’s Frontier”; D. LeBaron Perrine, “The Remaking of Florida,” The Tropic Magazine 11 (February 1926), 185–99; Miami Herald, 25 May 1930; Mark S. Foster, Castles in the Sand: The Life and Times of Carl Graham Fisher (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 136–71; Akin, Flagler, 112–13; Helen Muir, Miami U.S.A. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000), 47–53, 95–103; Douglas, “When You and I Were Young, Miami.”
7. Douglas, “When You and I Were Young, Miami,” 19–20. On women’s clubs and women and progressive reform, see Carolyn Merchant, “Women of the Progressive Conservation Movement, 1900–1916,” Environmental Review 8 (Spring 1984): 57–86; Dorothy Schneider and Carl J. Schneider, American Women in the Progressive Era, 1900–1920 (New York: Anchor Books, 1993); Karen J. Blair, The Clubwoman as Feminist: True Womanhood Redefined, 1868–1914 (New York, Holmes & Meier Publishers, Inc., 1980), 83, 103–6; Cameron Binkley, “`No Better Heritage Than Living Trees’—Women’s Clubs and Early Conservation in Humboldt County,” Western Historical Quarterly (Summer 2002): 179–204; Glenda Riley, Women and Nature: Saving the `Wild’ West (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1999), 97–113. Historians once overstated pollution concerns as distinctive to the contemporary environmental movement, in part as a result of overlooking the early activities of women. In recent years, scholars have offered a corrective to that oversight. See, for example, David Stradling, Smokestacks and Progress: Environmentalists, Engineers, and Air Quality in America, 1881–1951 (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 52–55, 59, 93; Suellen M. Hoy, “`Municipal Housekeeping’: The Role of Women in Improving Urban Sanitation Practices, 1880–1917,” in Pollution and Reform in American Cities, 1870–1930, ed. Martin V. Melosi(Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980), 173–98; Maureen A. Flanagan, “The City Profitable, The City Livable: Environmental Policy, Gender, and Power in Chicago in the 1910s,” Journal of Urban History 22 (January 1996): 163–90; Harold L. Platt, “Jane Addams and the Ward Boss Revisited: Class, Politics, and Public Health in Chicago, 1890–1930,” Environmental History 5 (April 2000): 194–222.
8. Lucy Worthington Blackman, The Florida Federation of Women’s Clubs, 1895–1939 (Jacksonville, Fla.: Southern Historical Publishing Associates, 1939), 21, 33–34; Mrs. W. S. Jennings, “Royal Palm State Park,” The Tropic Magazine 4 (April 1916), 10–16, 26; Miami Herald, 24 November 1916; C. B. Reynolds, “Royal Palm State Park,” Mr. Foster’s Travel Magazine 6 (January 1919), n.p.; May Mann Jennings to Mrs. M. L. Stanley, 30 April 1917, May Mann Jennings Papers (hereafter cited as MMJ), box 10, Special Collections, George Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville (hereafter cited as GSL); Telegram, Bryan Jennings to May Mann Jennings, 2 June 1915, MMJ, box 10; Linda D. Vance, May Mann Jennings: Florida’s Genteel Activist (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1985), 54–60, 118–21, 125–26.
9. Lucy Worthington Blackman, The Florida Audubon Society, 1900–1935 (n.p., n.d.), 6–8, 20, 45; Robin W. Doughty, Feather Fashions and Bird Preservation: A Study in Nature Protection (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975); Mark Derr, Some Kind of Paradise: A Chronicle of Man and the Land in Florida (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989), 137–40; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Wings,” The Saturday Evening Post (March 14, 1931), 10–11, 74, 77–78; Oliver H. Orr, Jr., Saving American Birds: T. Gilbert Pearson and the Founding of the Audubon Movement (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1992), 30–31, 47–51, 124–25, 154–55, 237; Harry A. Kersey, Pelts, Plumes, and Hides: White Traders Among the Seminole Indians, 1870–1930 (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1975), 36–37, 65, 76–77, 81, 117, 131–33.
10. James C. Clark, “Florida’s Limits on Women,” Orlando Sentinel Florida Magazine (20 May 1990): 25; Orlando Sentinel Star, 9 November 1975; Miami Herald 30 December 1922, February 18, 1974, 25 August 1976, 11 November 1985; Letter to May Mann Jennings, 2 December 1917, MMJ, Correspondence file, September–December 1917, January–February 1918, box 12; Douglas, “When You and I were Young, Miami”; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Dorothy Vaile, 18 July 1985, MSD, folder 78, box 44.
11. Douglas, Voice of the River, 37, 76; Marjory Stoneman Douglas card, Personnel Files, Hazel Braugh Record Center and Archives, American Red Cross, Falls Church, Va.; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Years I have Seen: A Prologue,” MSD, Florida, Prologue folder, box 2; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Cities Face Their Slums,” Ladies Home Journal (October 1950), 23, 224–25; Mercedes M. Randall, Improper Bostonian: Emily Greene Balch (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1964); Cathy Shaw, “The Friend of the Everglades,” Wellesley Magazine (Summer 1983): 15.
12. Merchant, “Women of the Progressive Conservation Movement,” 80; Vera Norwood, Made From This Earth: American Women and Nature (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993), 29–30; Hoy, “`Municipal Housekeeping,'” 194; Miami Herald, 2 December, 27 December, 1922, 10 March 1923; J. M. Willson to J. E. Mosely, 18 October 1928, “Reclaiming the Everglades” http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Alumnae Achievement Award,” Wellesley Alumnae Magazine (Spring 1977), 31. Three good examples of such stories are “Women and Birds”; “Pineland,” Saturday Evening Post (August 15, 1925), 14–15, 115, 118, 121; and “Wind Before Morning,” Saturday Evening Post (June 8, 1935), 18–19, 50, 52, 55.
13. Miami Herald, 29 January, 8 March, 11 May 1923; “The Remarkable Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” The Miamian (September 1970), 62; Douglas, untitled manuscript, 29; Stanley K. Schultz, Constructing Urban Culture: American Cities and City Planning, 1800–1920 (Philadelphia, 1989); Diana Balmori, Diane Kostial McGuire, and Eleanor M. McPeck, Beatrix Farrand’s American Landscapes: Her Gardens and Campuses (Sagaponack, N.Y.: Sagapress, 1985); Norwood, Made From the Earth, 110–11, 114–17; Douglas, “When You and I Were Young, Miami.” On the City Beautiful movement generally, see William H. Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989). On Addams, Dock, Hamilton, and other women urban reformers, see Platt, “Jane Addams and the Ward Boss Revisited”; Christopher C. Sellers, Hazards of the Job: From Industrial Disease to Environmental Health Science (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 69–106; Wilson, The City Beautiful Movement, 44, 57–58, 126–46.
14. Douglas, untitled manuscript, n.d., folder 23, box 48, MSD, 31–32; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass (1947; reprint, Marietta, Georgia: Mockingbird Books, 1992), 134–35; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Florida: The Long Frontier (New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 262; Lydia Allen DeVilbiss to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 7 December 1947, MSD, folder 42, box 42; Miami Herald, 30 October, 11 November 1922. On the subject of regionalism, see Regionalism in America, ed. Merrill Jensen (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1965); Daniel Joseph Singal, The War Within: From Victorian to Modernist Thought in the South, 1919–1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1982), 148–52.
15. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “The Everglades Remembered,” The Florida Naturalist (December 1983), 8–9, 15; Miami Herald, 3 January 1921; Mary Schmich, “Our Lady of the `Glades,” Chicago Tribune clipping, MSD, folder 11, box 39; Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring, 212–18.
16. On progressive conservation, see Samuel P. Hays, Conservation and the Gospel of Efficiency: The Progressive Conservation Movement, 1890–1920 (New York: Atheneum, 1956).
17. Miami Herald, 12 October 1922, 20 March 1923, 30 March 1923, 12 April 1923; Douglas, River of Grass, 129–31, 176, 260; Exotic Invaders of the Everglades, MSD, report, folder 72, box 28. Douglas remained a lifelong support of Fairchild’s work, and in 1937, she published a pamphlet supporting the public purchase and preservation of Fairchild’s gardens. See Marjory Stoneman Douglas, An Argument for a Botanical Garden in South Florida to Be Called the Fairchild Tropical Garden (Coral Gables, Fla.: Craftsmen of Kells Press, 1937).
18. Miami Herald, 16 April, 18 April 1923; Thomas E. Will, “Conservation in Earnest,” Thomas E. Will papers, box 33, Special Collections, GSL; Charlton W. Tebeau, Man in the Everglades: 2000 Years of Human History in the Everglades National Park (Miami, Fla.: University of Miami Press, 1968), 21–22.
19. Extant documents are unclear about who served on the Tropic Everglades National Park Association.
20. Ernest F. Coe, “The Proposed Tropic Everglades National Park Location the Cape Sable Region of South Florida,” 25 October 1928, “Reclaiming the Everglades” http://everglades.fiu.edu/reclaim; Tebeau, Man in the Everglades, 166–81; Vance, May Mann Jennings, 80–86, 88, 90–93, 112, 114–15, 117–18, 130–31; Sally Vicker, “Ruth Bryan Owen: Florida’s First Congresswoman and Lifetime Activist,” Florida Historical Quarterly 77 (Spring 1999), 466–67; Douglas, Florida, 282; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “The Forgotten Man Who Saved the Everglades,” Audubon 73 (September 1971), 79–96; Franklin D. Roosevelt, Executive Order (No. 6883), 22 October 1934, Florida State Library, Tallahassee. On women and national parks, see Polly Welts Kaufman, National Parks and the Woman’s Voice: A History (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996); Riley, Women and Nature, 17, 75, 83, 101, 109–10, 126, 128, 145–47, 163, 157.
21. Douglas, “Wings”; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Plumes,” Saturday Evening Post (14 June 1930), 8–9, 112, 114, 117–18, 121; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “A Flight of Ibis,” The Saturday Evening Post (21 December 1935), 12–13, 69–70, 72; Mildred Campbell to Literary Editor, 30 July 1930, MSD, folder 46, box 30; Kevin M. McCarthy, “How Marjory Stoneman Douglas Crusaded for Southern Florida in Her Short Works,” Journal of Florida Literature 8 (1997), 15–21. On women nature writers, see Norwood, Made From the Earth, 25–53, 172–208; Rachel Stein, Shifting the Ground: American Women Writers’ Revision of Nature, Gender, and Race (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1997), 4–5, 14–15, 24, 26–31, 34–52, 117–22; Judith Boice, Mother Earth: Through the Eyes of Women Photographers and Writers (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1992); Thomas S. Edwards and Elizabeth A. De Wolfe, eds., Such News of the Land: U.S. Women Nature Writers (Hanover, N.H.: University Press of New England, 2001).
22. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Road to the Sun (New York: Rinehart, 1952); Melissa Walker, “Marjory Stoneman Douglas,” in American Nature Writers, John Elder, ed., (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1996), 240; Douglas, River of Grass; Agreement, Farrar and Rinehart and Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 23 November 1943, MSD, folder 110, box 47; Harnett T. Kane, review, The Everglades: River of Grass, MSD, folder 48, box 42; (New York) Herald Tribune, 7 December 1947; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 8 December 1947, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Papers, Special Collections, GSL, Douglas, Marjory—ALS to MKR, 1947, December 8 folder.
23. Abbreviated Resume, Garald G. Parker, Sr., Garald G. Parker Collection (hereafter cited as GGP), Special Collections, University of South Florida Library, University of South Florida, Tampa; Garald G. Parker, “Truth About the Everglades,” unpublished paper (n.d.), MSD, folder 27, box 25; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Mrs. Parker, MSD, folder 21, box 40; Douglas, River of Grass, 8–17.
24. Matt Schudel, “Marjory’s Place,” Orlando Sentinel Sunshine (2 May 1999): 19; Douglas, River of Grass, 291, 292, 298–99; Michael P. Branch, “Writing the Swamp: Marjory Stoneman Douglas and The Everglades: River of Grass,” in Such News of the Land 128, 132–33; Interview with Helen Muir, 11 March 1999; Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962; reprint, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987), 297; Nash, Wilderness and the American Mind, 182–99.
25. Zephyrhills News, 27 June 1947; Dedication Ceremony for Everglades National Park, Everglades, Florida, 6 December 1947, program and addresses, MMJ, box 22; “Glistening River,” undated newspaper clipping, series 201, folder 1, box 35, Claude Pepper Papers (hereafter cited as CPP), Claude Pepper Library, Florida State University Library, Tallahassee; “A Great Day for Florida,” undated newspaper clipping, CPP, series 201, folder 1, box 35. On the history of the American image of wetlands, see Ann Vileisis, Discovering the Unknown Landscape: A History of America’s Wetlands (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1997); on the Everglades specifically, see Meindl, “Past Perceptions of the Great American Wetland,” 378–95.
26. Miami Herald, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 September, 2 November 1947; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “The Everglades Face the Future,” Trailways Magazine 9 (Fall 1944), 9–10, 26, 28; Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “What Are They Doing to the Everglades?” unpublished manuscript, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Reclaiming the Everglades; “Estimate of Agricultural Losses in Broward County from Storms of September 21 and October 5, 1948 and Resulting High Waters,” Spessard Holland Papers, Special Collections, GSL, Flood Control Permanent folder, box 287 (see same folder for letters and resolutions supporting flood control); Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, Public Notice, 31 December 1947, and A. G. Mathews, Chief Engineer, Florida State Board of Conservation, report, 10 March 1949, CPP, series 201, folder 1, box 34 (see series 201, folder 11, box 33 in CPP for letters and resolutions supporting flood control). Even the National Audubon Society supported the flood control plan: John H. Banks to Spessard Holland, 12 July 1948, Spessard Holland Papers, Flood Control Hearing folder, box 287.
27. Burt (The Reader’s Digest) to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 2 July 1953, Marjory Stoneman Douglas Papers, box 2, Elizabeth Virrick Collection, Historical Museum of South Florida, Miami, Florida (hereafter cited as EVC); Marjory Stoneman Douglas, “Slum Clearance, Community Style,” unpublished article manuscript, n.d., EVC, box 2; Marjory Stoneman Douglas and Elizabeth Virrick, “People Against Slums,” book prospectus, n.d., EVC, box 2; List, Organizations List—Dade County Individuals Belonging to Various Groups folder, box 12, Florida Legislative Investigation Committee Collection, Florida State Archives, Tallahassee; Greater Miami Chapter, American Civil Liberties Union “Dear Friend” circular, signed by Arnold M. Greenfield, n.d., Publications—ACLU folder, box 17, Florida Legislative Investigation Committee Collection; Application for Charter, American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Miami, Dade County, Florida, 22 July 1955, American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Miami, 1955–1959, American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Records, Special Collections, GSL, folder 1, box 1; “The Winner of the Horton-Hallowell Fellowship,” Wellesley Alumnae Magazine (January 1967), 32, 38. For a history of the black experience in Miami, see Marvin Dunn, Black Miami in the Twentieth Century (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1997).
28. For general studies of the modern environmental movement, see Philip Shabecoff, A Fierce Green Fire: The American Environmental Movement (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 111–28; Kirkpatrick Sale, The Green Revolution: The American Environmental Movement, 1962–1992 (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993), 11–45; Gottlieb, Forcing the Spring, 75–114, 117–77; Stephen Fox, The American Conservation Movement: John Muir and His Legacy (1981; reprint, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 250–53, 262–329; and on Florida, see Scott Hamilton Dewey, “`Is This What We Came to Florida For?’: Florida Women and the Fight Against Air Pollution in the 1960s,” Florida Historical Quarterly 77 (Spring 1999): 503–31.
29. Peggy Poor, “Can Man Come to Terms with Nature in Florida Everglades?” Orlando Sentinel Florida Magazine (19 April 1970): 6-F-7-F; Orlando Evening Star, 14 April 1971; Marquis Childs, “The Everglades in an Era of Reprieve: A New Awareness May Help to Preserve one of America’s Treasures, Which Has Had Bleak Times,” Smithsonian 1 (June 1970):5–13; Peter Farb, “Disaster Threatens the Everglades,” Audubon Magazine 67 (September–October 1965): 302–7; Wallace Stegner, “Last Chance for the Everglades,” Saturday Review 50 (6 May 1967): 22–23, 72–73; Central and South Florida Flood Control District news release, 12 July 1974, GGP; Jackson Price to Claude Pepper, 3 June 1966, CPP, series 301, folder 2, box 767; and District Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, Florida, news release, 14 April 1966, CPP, series 301, folder 4, box 613.
30. “Conservation—Jets v. Everglades,” Time (22 August 1969): 42–43; newspapers clippings, David O. True Collection, Special Collections, University of South Florida Library, Tampa, Everglades folder, box 25; Charles R. Jeter to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 26 August 1982, Arthur R. Marshall Papers, Special Collections, GSL, Everglades Jetport folder, box 2.
31. Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 28 November 1982; Joe Podgor interview; Interview with Franklin Adams, 8 August 2000.
32. Thomas T. Ankersen, “Law, Science and Little Old Ladies: The Many Hands that Made a Movement,” Forum (Summer 1995): 31–33; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Arthur Marshall, 5 February 1971, Arthur R. Marshall Papers, folder 28, box 1. For the works of early Florida naturalists, see John Kunkel Small, From Eden to Sahara: Florida’s Tragedy (Lancaster, Pa.: The Science Press Printing Company, 1929); Charles Torrey Simpson, In Lower Florida Wilds (New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1920); Ibid.; Out of Doors in Florida: The Adventures of a Naturalist Together with Essays on the Wild Life and Geology of the State (Miami, Fla.: E. B. Douglas Company, 1923); and Thomas Barbour, That Vanishing Eden: A Naturalist’s Florida (Boston: Little, Brown, 1944). In Our Vanishing Wild Life: Its Extermination and Preservation (New York: New York Zoological Society, 1913), New York Zoological Society president William T. Hornaday also sounded the alarm about Florida’s vanishing wilderness.
33. Tallahassee Democrat, 19 May 1981; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 28 November 1982; Allan Dodds Frank, “Without Water, Everything Stops,” Forbes 134 (2 December 1984), 63–64, 68, 72; Yates, “Marjory Stoneman Douglas and the Glades Crusade,” 118; Ankersen, “Law, Science and Little Old Ladies,” 31–33; Douglas, River of Grass, 296–97.
34. Interview with John C. Jones and Marianna Jones, 11 August 2000; Tallahassee Democrat, 19 May 1981; Miami Herald, 15 August 1982; “Birds Have Personality,” undated newspaper clipping, MSD, folder 11, box 39; John C. Jones to Nathaniel P. Reed, 21 July 1982, MSD, folder 27, box 25; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Lawton Chiles, 26 February 1986, MSD, folder 51, box 26; John C. Jones to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 20 February 1982, MSD, folder 51, box 26; John C. Jones to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 2 June 1982, MSD, folder 51, box 26; Marjory Stoneman Douglas to John C. Jones, 8 February 1982, MSD, folder 51, box 26.
35. Jones and Jones interview; “The Kissimmee River … A Trip Into the Past,” June 1976 news clipping provided by John C. and Marianna Jones, West Palm Beach, Florida; WATER!, conference program, 22 February 1976, MSD, folder 8, box 23; WATER! Member organizations list, MSD, folder 8, box 23; “Unlikely Allies Team Up,” undated newspaper clipping, MSD, folder 6, box 24; “Restoration of the Kissimmee River,” resolution, n.d., MSD, folder 8, box 23; Arthur R. Marshall to Members of the Coalition to Repair the Everglades, memo, n.d., MSD, folder 89, box 45; Press release, “Graham Announces Save Our Everglades Program,” 9 August 1983, Governor Robert Graham Papers, correspondence folder, box 44, Florida State Archives.
36. Florida Wildlife Federation, et al. v. State of Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, et al., DOAH case no. 79–256, MSD, folder 89, box 45; “Forever Glades,” Audubon special issue, “The Everglades Rises Again,”103 (July–August 2001): 61; St. Petersburg Times, 21 December 1987, 5 June 1989, 15 May 1998; Orlando Sentinel, 18 September, 22 January 1990, 11 January 1991; David McCally, The Everglades: An Environmental History (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999), 172–73; Alec Wilkinson, Big Sugar: Seasons in the Cane Fields of Florida (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989); Derr, Some Kind of Paradise, 95–96, 172–73.
37. Marjory Stoneman Douglas to Robert Graham, 17 October 1985; Rob Williams to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 24 January 1986; Robert A. Williams, memorandum, 24 January 1986, all in MSD, Social Concerns folder, box 12; Bob Graham to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, 16 July 1982, MSD, folder 47, box 26; Orlando Sentinel, 1 January 1984, 18 September 1990; McCally, Everglades, 154–57; Cindy Hahamovitch, Fruits of Their Labor: Atlantic Coast Farmworkers and the Making of Migrant Poverty, 1870–1945 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997), 113–37; Branch, “Writing the Swamp,” 131; Franklin Adams and Joe Podgor interviews. Douglas devoted ten chapters of River of Grass to the history of Glades Indians; for the experience of migrant farm workers, see 275–80.
38. Miami Herald, 2 December, 27 December, 1922, 10 March 1923, 18 February 1974, 25 August, 1976; Orlando Sentinel Star, 9 November 1975; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 28 November 1982; Orlando Sentinel Star, 9 November 1975; Orlando Sentinel, 8 April 1990; Jim Clark, “Florida Waffled on Passing Equal Rights Amendment,” Orlando Sentinel Florida Magazine (30 March 1997): 5. On modern feminism and environmentalism, see for example, Carolyn Merchant, Earthcare: Women and the Environment (New York: Routledge, 1995), 88–89, 145–49.
39. Tallahassee Democrat, 19 May 1981; Holly M. Hays, “Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Conservationist of the Century,” Florida Living (August 1992), 54; St. Petersburg Times, 5 June 1989; Orlando Sentinel, 26 May 1986; Miami Herald, 21 May 1983; Schmich, “Our Lady of the `Glades”; Douglas, Voice of the River, 233.
40. St. Petersburg Times, 20 October 2000, 2 February 2001; Birmingham News, 10 August 2001; “Anatomy of a Deal,” Audubon special issue, “The Everglades Rises Again,”103 (July–August 2001): 50–51; “Biodiversity Legal Foundation-Friends of the Everglades-Florida Biodiversity Project, resolution, 2 October 2000, www.everglades.org; Glade Runner (Winter 2001–2002): 4, 6–7.