The Linda Lear Collection of Rachel Carson Books and Papers
Linda Lear, an environmental historian and graduate of Connecticut College, published her prize-winning biography Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature in 1997 (reprinted by Houghton Mifflin in 2009). During the course of her research, she accumulated an enormous collection of primary and secondary documents relating to the life work and achievement of Rachel Carson. In 1998, Professor Lear donated her research archive to the College to become the permanent property of the Lear Center for Special Collections & Archives. The collection consists of over fifty linear feet of copies of correspondence, vital records, articles, reviews, photographs, and ephemera that chronicle the life and influence of Rachel Carson. The collection may be divided roughly as follows:
1. Research files organized by chapter for Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature and Lost Woods: The Discovered Writing of Rachel Carson and chapter typescripts for both books.
2. Rachel Carson's clipping files for the five year period she was working on Silent Spring and the period immediately after her death in 1964 maintained by her friend and colleague Shirley A. Briggs.
3. Original letters of Carson's friends and associates including the following correspondents: Shirley A. Briggs, Paul Brooks, Roland Clement, George Crile, Jr., MD., Jeanne V. Davis, Frank E. Egler, Dorothy Freeman, Harold Peters, Ruth Scott, Marjorie Spock, Mary Scott Skinker, and Stewart Udall. In addition there are copies of correspondence between Carson and others that are copied from the Rachel Carson Collection in the Beinecke Library at Yale University that Lear used.
4. Collateral typescripts include those of Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman (Beacon Press, 1995), edited by Martha Freeman; an unpublished biography of Carson by Angela Sober who bought and lived in the Carson Homestead from 1931 to 1972; the unpublished manuscript of Dorothy Thompson Seif which includes letters from Carson's college classmates and her mentor Professor Mary Scott Skinker; and the typescripts for several published and unpublished articles and encyclopedia entries on Carson by Lear.
5. Papers of Ruth Jury Scott, western Pennsylvania environmentalist and associate of Carson. Scott was instrumental in the preservation of the Rachel Carson Homestead and the creation of the Rachel Carson Council. Scott's archives and personal recollections were an important source for Linda Lear's biography Witness for Nature.
The collection has since been supplemented with a gift by Professor Lear of nearly 150 published works by and about Rachel Carson, including many important first editions. This collection has been cataloged and may be searched in Caravan. The Lear Center holds several other collections in environmental studies, which may contain materials relevant to the life and work of Rachel Carson. Chief among these are the Roland Clement papers and the Neil Goodwin/Peace River Films collection.