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Guide to the Sierra Club Members Papers
BANC MSS 71/295 c  
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Collection Details
 
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  • Collection Summary
  • Information for Researchers
  • Administrative Information
  • Scope and Content

  • Collection Summary

    Collection Title: Sierra Club Members Papers
    Collection Number: BANC MSS 71/295 c
    Creator: Sierra Club
    Extent: Number of containers: 279 cartons, 4 boxes, 3 oversize folders, 8 volumes Linear feet: ca. 354
    Repository: The Bancroft Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Physical Location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Abstract: A wide variety of Sierra Club leaders are represented in this collection, including staff members engaged in national environmental politics; activists of critical importance to the development of the conservation movement in the United States; and volunteer activists involved in local conservation efforts. The papers, mostly correspondence and subject files, are a rich resource not only as a record of individual conservation activities but also for the history of the Club itself. Since the Sierra Club Mills Tower office and all the records within were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, the history of the Club during its first decades can best be traced by examining early members' papers. The most extensive group of early materials is found in the papers of William E. Colby. Papers are sketchy for the decades of the 1910s through the 1930s. David R. Brower's papers document conservation battles won and lost, including the long fight to stop the building of dams and roads within the national parks.
    Languages Represented: English

    Information for Researchers

    Access

    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to The Bancroft Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of Public Services. Permission for publication is given on behalf of The Bancroft Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Sierra Club Members papers, BANC MSS 71/295 c, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

    Related Collections

    Title: Sierra Club Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/103 c


    Title: Sierra Club National Legislative Office Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/289 c


    Title: Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/296 c


    Title: Sierra Club Foundation Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 89/230 c


    Title: Sierra Club International Program Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/290 c


    Title: Sierra Club Mountain Registers and Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/293 c


    Title: Sierra Club California Legislative Office Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 91/1 c


    Title: Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/291 c


    Title: Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter Records,
    Identifier/Call Number: BANC MSS 71/292 c


    Material Cataloged Separately

    Printed materials have been transferred to the book collection of The Bancroft Library.
    Photographs have been transferred to Pictorial Collections of The Bancroft Library.
    Videotapes and sound recordings have been transferred to the Microforms Division of The Bancroft Library.

    Administrative Information

    Acquisition Information

    In 1970 the Board of Directors of the Sierra Club voted to place the club's historical records in The Bancroft Library. Encouraged by the national office, individual club members also sent their personal files to be added to the archives, and they continue to do so.

    Funding

    The Sierra Club Records Project was made possible by a major grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

    Scope and Content

    The Sierra Club Members Papers are a rich resource not only as a record of individual conservation activities but also for the history of the club itself. A wide variety of Sierra Club leaders, celebrated activists of critical importance to the development of the conservation movement in the United States, are represented in this collection including Ansel Adams, William E. Colby, Richard M. Leonard, William Siri, Edgar Wayburn and other volunteer-activists intensely involved in local conservation efforts. Examples of the latter are typified by Matthew Bailey, who waged a hard-fought and successful campaign to win National Wild and Scenic River designation for his own "backyard river," the North Fork of the American River, in Northern California.
    Since the Sierra Club Mills Tower office and all the records within were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire, the history of the club during its first decades can best be traced by examining early members' papers. These include William D. Armes, Cornelius B. Bradley, James Bryce, Herbert W. Gleason, Howard Longley, Marion Randall Parsons, Henry Senger, and Lil A. Winchell. Unfortunately, even these records are fragmentary, providing only a glimpse of the earliest years.
    The most extensive cache of early materials is found in the papers of William E. Colby, who was a disciple of founder John Muir. Colby was deeply involved in the unsuccessful campaign against Hetch Hetchy reservoir, which was to be Muir's last conservation battle. Colby led the first Sierra Club High Trip in 1902, beginning the club's still-thriving Outing Program. He also helped marshall the club's forces in the successful 1930s drive to create a national park to protect the headwaters of the Kings River, this time realizing one of Muir's dreams.
    Papers are disappointingly sketchy for the decades of the nineteen-teens through the 1930s. Presidents William F. Badè (1919-1920) and Aurelia Harwood (1927-1928) are represented by only a few folders of correspondence. A small but delightful group of papers, collected by the chair of the Sierra Club Folklore Committee, Irma Weill, contains prose and poems composed by members of the Sierra Club High Trips. Another interesting collection is Ansel Franklin Hall's outline, notes, and drafts for a Yosemite National Park trail guide.
    A number of active young Sierra Club members, who learned ski mountaineering and rock climbing techniques on club outings, joined the U.S. Army as experts in the European Alps. Among them were Richard M. Leonard and David R. Brower. Brower became the club's first executive director in 1952. From this point on, as the club and staff gradually grew more numerous and became interested in more diverse issues, the Members Papers broaden in scope, address more subjects, and treat them in considerably more detail.
    Harold C. Bradley's files contain information on the Dinosaur National Monument-Echo Park Dam controversy. A representative local campaign from this era is well documented in Joe R. Momyer's papers, concerning an unsuccessful attempt to stop the construction of the Palm Springs Tramway in the San Jacinto Wilderness in southern California.
    By the beginning of the 1960s, the club realized an increasing need to gather technical information to substantiate its position at government hearings and in print. Sierra Club Members Papers directly reflect this growing technical competency. Forestry consultant Gordon Robinson, park and wilderness advocate Randal F. Dickey, Jr., staff member Robert V. Golden, Sierra Club Bulletin editor Bruce Kilgore, Redwood National Park promoters Martin Litton, Michael McCloskey and Edgar Wayburn, North Cascades wilderness enthusiast David Simons, and Point Reyes National Seashore Task Force Chair Sonya Thompson waged increasingly sophisticated campaigns and set high standards for others to follow. Executive Director Michael McCloskey's files overflow with information, both about the internal workings of the club and about its myriad legislative, educational and recreational activities.
    As Sierra Club membership ballooned in the 1970s and 1980s, the work of club officers and staff became increasingly complex. President Ray Sherwin, a judge, took special interest in litigation concerning energy, forestry, pollution, and Alaska land issues. Theodore A. Snyder, Jr., who along with William Futrell and Denny Shaffer formed a trio of presidents from the southeastern United States in the late 1970s and early 1980s, gained considerable expertise on wilderness and public lands issues, including the Roadless Area Review and Evaluation (RARE II). Judith Kunofsky's papers demonstrate the increasing scope of the Sierra Club's interests, including major efforts on behalf of air quality, agriculture, and population planning measures. Douglas Scott and Edgar Wayburn were unstinting in their efforts to craft the best possible legislation to protect Alaska national interest lands.
    The Sierra Club Members Papers are arranged in 71 series, alphabetically by member name. It should be noted that not all papers of active conservationists who were also Sierra Club members are included in this group. A number of important collections of personal papers, such as those of Francis P. Farquhar and Robert B. Marshall, were acquired by The Bancroft Library independently of the Sierra Club collection and are catalogued separately.