During the seventeen years she worked in the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Rachel Carson learned about the problems of pesticides. Undaunted by the chemical companies' hostility and by the public's high enthusiasm for pesticides, she wrote a book called Silent Spring, which caused a major shift in public consciousness about the environment.
Rachel Carson and Katherine Howe
sitting in Howe and S. Briggs' office. Interior, taken during
the late 1940's. Photograph by Shirley Briggs. Used by
permission of the Shirley Briggs Photographs and Papers in the
Lear/Carson Collection at Connecticut College
After her book The Sea Around Us became a best
seller in September 1952, Rachel Carson was able to leave the
Fish and Wildlife Service--where she was one of a few women in
high positions-- and pursue writing as her only occupation. The
next book she planned to write was on human ecology.
As a scientist and a keen observer of the world around her,
Rachel Carson noted in 1958 that it was pleasant to believe
that much of Nature was beyond the reach of man, that God had a
course for the stream of life, and Man could not interfere with
it. The physical environment was to mold Life, and Life should
not have the power to change drastically or destroy the
physical world. Carson had these beliefs for a long time and at
first refused to acknowledge that her beliefs were being
threatened. But she realized she could no longer ignore what
she was seeing, and she felt it was time someone wrote about
the truth 1 (Graham, pp.
Rachel Carson, sitting on a peak,
watching migrating hawks through binoculars at Hawk Mountain,
PA., in 1945. Photograph by Shirley Briggs. Used by permission
of the Shirley Briggs Photographs and Papers in the Lear/Carson
Collection at Connecticut College Library.