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Environmental Collections at The Bancroft Library

Overview of Collections

Documentation of the efforts of non-governmental groups to tackle a wide range of environmental issues in the twentieth century is comprehensive. Archival collections from trailblazing environmental organizations and their leaders represent an incomparable resource for study at local, regional, national, and international levels. Subjects covered include wilderness preservation, use of water resources, species survival, energy development, urban sprawl and its effects on the environment, and a more recent concern with environmental justice.

In addition to the Sierra Club, The Bancroft Library houses the records for numerous environmental organizations, from groups with global reach like Earth Island Institute to local grassroots such as Friends of the River. Environmental issues addressed are diverse, and these collections document the variety of ways the organizations have promoted their ideals, including fighting for legislation at the local, state and national level; the financing and orchestration of sophisticated public relations and educational campaigns; and the development of grassroots support for their causes.

Save the Redwoods League

Save the Redwoods League is a nonprofit organization founded in 1918 by three prominent conservationists, John C. Merriam, Madison Grant, and Fairfield Osborn. Its mission is to protect and restore California redwoods and connect people to the peace and beauty of redwood forests.

The fight to save the redwoods affected the preservation of land in parks throughout California. In 1928, the league led the campaign that won public approval of legislation that established the California state park system and allocated $6 million in funds to acquire state park lands. Multiple redwood preserves were established through the subsequent decades, and in 1968 Congress authorized the creation of Redwood National Park, due in no small part to the ongoing advocacy and activism of the league, its members and volunteers. Save the Redwoods League continues to protect redwood forests from logging and pollution, provides gifts to establish parks and preserves, and has active scientific research and education programs.

First Save the Redwoods Gathering

First "Save the Redwoods" Gathering
Image citation: Save the Redwoods League photograph collection, BANC PIC 2006.030--B, Box 1, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Save San Francisco Bay Association

The Save San Francisco Bay Association, also known as Save the Bay, was founded by Esther Gulick, Catherine Kerr, and Sylvia McLaughlin in 1961 to protect open water, improve recreation opportunities, support wildlife conservation, beautify the shoreline, and promote resource planning. The three East Bay residents were concerned about discussions to fill in the Bay in order to gain more land for population growth. The Association mobilized thousands of members to stop bay fill and in 1965 won a legislative moratorium against placing fill in the Bay, the McAteer-Petris Act.

Save the Bay continues to monitor civic agencies to insure that they serve the public interests in maintaining San Francisco Bay as a natural resource, and also provides an arena for public participation in decisions affecting bay management and conservation. The association has initiated numerous legal actions against corporations and the legislature to prevent excessive bay fill, protect wildlife, and improve water quality and recreational access, often engaging in such legal action in cooperation with other environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club.

Weather and Water Information Sheet

Weather & Water Information Sheet
Image citation: Save San Francisco Bay Association records, BANC MSS 87/29, Carton 2, Folder 14, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Friends of the Earth

Established as a non tax-deductible, non-profit membership organization focused on legislative and political action, Friends of the Earth (FOE) was founded by David Brower, Donald Aitken, and Gary Soucie in San Francisco and incorporated on July 11, 1969 in New York City. Since 1971, it has been composed of an international network of FOE groups now based in over 70 countries. Each international group is organized under the laws of its own country and works toward the common objective of advancing the preservation, restoration, and rational use of the Earth.

Successful campaigns of FOE include advocating and lobbying for the passage of pollution prevention regulations and policies, to protect wilderness and wildlife, and to conserve natural resources.

Friends of the Earth International Brochure

Friends of the Earth International Brochure
Image citation: Friends of the Earth records, BANC MSS 82/98, Carton 5, Folder 1, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Friends of the River Foundation

In 1973, a grassroots conservation organization, Friends of the River (FOR), was established as an outgrowth of the signature-gathering campaign to stop the construction of the New Melones Dam on the Stanislaus River near Jamestown, California. In 1975, under the leadership of Mark Dubois and Jennifer Jennings, the Friends of the River Foundation was incorporated as a non-profit, membership based organization dedicated to river protection.

Although the New Melones Dam was eventually built and the lake filled in 1982, one of the campaign's most influential achievements was to crack open the debate about the cost effectiveness and benefits to society of large dam projects around the globe. No other dams of this magnitude have been constructed in the United States since the completion of the New Melones Dam, and the struggle to save the Stanislaus River from its construction remains one of the greatest examples of citizen involvement in American history to stop a dam from being built. The Friends of the River Foundation continues to push for water-protection legislation in California through grassroots organizing, public outreach, and education.

Friends of the River Poster

Clean-Up the American River Day Poster
Image citation: Friends of the River Foundation records, BANC MSS 88/25, Oversize Folder 2 Unit B, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Earth Island Institute

Earth Island Institute was founded in 1982 by David Brower in Berkeley, California. The organization serves as an incubator supporting numerous ecological and social justice projects working to conserve, protect, and restore the environment. It has fostered hundreds of local and internationally focused environmental projects including Baikal Watch, Bay Area Wilderness Training, Borneo Project, the Brower Fund, International Marine Mammal Project, Restore Hetch Hetchy, Sacred Land Film Project, the Sea Turtle Restoration Project and Transportation Involves Everyone.

The Earth Island Institute is perhaps best known for two of its major projects - the Dolphin and Whale Project (including the Dolphin-Safe Tuna Campaign) and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation.

Free Willy Keiko Foundation Update Newsletter

Free Willy Keiko Foundation Update Newsletter, Winter 1998, Issue 5
Image citation: Earth Island Institute records, BANC MSS 2009/129, Carton 16, Folder 42, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Rainforest Action Network

Founded in 1985 by Randy Hayes, Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is an environmental organization that campaigns for the preservation of rainforests and the rights of the Indigenous peoples who live within those forests. The global breadth of RAN's activities range from Old Growth campaigns in Northern California, the Pacific Northwest, and Canada to Tropical Timber campaigns to protect forests and Indigenous rights in Central and South America, Africa, Tasmania, and Southeast Asia. They also include the Global Finance campaign, which organized and supported civil disobedience during the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, Washington, in 1999.

Rainforest Action Network's direct-action, education, and marketing campaigns apply pressure to governments and corporations to halt illegal logging, manufacturing, selling, and use of old growth trees and tropical forests.

Kid's Action Team Membership Cards and Bookmarks

Kid's Action Team Membership Cards & Bookmarks
Image citation: Rainforest Action Network records, BANC MSS 2006/161, Carton 43, Folder 1, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Urban Habitat Program

The Urban Habitat Program (UHP) was founded in 1989 by Carl Anthony, Karl Linn, and David Brower to build multicultural urban environment leadership for socially just, sustainable communities in the San Francisco Bay Area. UHP fosters and supports initiatives for social and ecological justice taken by historically disenfranchised communities: African, Latino, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, working and lower-income people. UHP has provided important links between environmental and social justice advocates by encouraging the environmental justice movement to include principles of sustainability and brings a vision of social justice to traditional environmentalists. UHP has helped build multicultural leadership for sustainable development in the Bay Area, while simultaneously broadening the definition of "sustainability" to include equity and justice.

Urban Habitat Program Leaflet

Urban Habitat Program Leaflet
Image citation: Urban Habitat Program records, BANC MSS 2002/65, Carton 23, Folder 45, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Arizona Toxics Information

Arizona Toxics Information is a not-for-profit organization founded by Michael Gregory in 1990, focusing on environmental concerns on the Arizona and California border regions of the U.S. and the two Mexican states directly south in Sonora and Baja California. Arizona Toxics Information advocates for change in hazardous materials policy and management in order to protect public, occupational, and environmental health. The organization also seeks to sustain cultural and natural resources by providing access to reports, public presentations, and workshops to the public and policy makers in an effort to educate them about occupational health and safety, as well as chemical and other toxic hazards. The organization also ran several successful campaigns to shut down the Phelps Dodge Corporation's Douglas Reduction Works (copper smelter), the ENSCO hazardous waste management facility (PCB incinerator), and to improve the overall air and water quality of Arizona.

Arizona Toxics Information

Recommendations for Incorporating Integrated Pest Management and Right-to-Know Provisions in the Structural Pest Control Commission Rules
Image citation: Arizona Toxics Information records, BANC MSS 2003/101, Carton 25, Folder 29, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley

Key Collections

Sierra Club records, 1890-2009
BANC MSS 71/103

The records form one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of environmental records in the United States. The Club designated The Bancroft Library as its official archives in 1958, and the organization began transferring records from the San Francisco office to the Library on a regular basis in 1970. A very wide range of record types are included in the collection, including correspondence, minutes, agendas, reports, by-laws, financial records, scrapbooks, sample ballots, notes, rosters, action alerts, statements and testimony, press releases, clippings, and policy statements. Documentation for the early years is scarce, since the Club's office in San Francisco was destroyed in the 1906 earthquake and fire.
Collection Finding Aid

Related Collections

Sierra Club Office of the Executive Director records, 1933-1994
BANC MSS 2002/230

Collection Finding Aid

Sierra Club International Program records, 1967-present
BANC MSS 71/290

Collection Finding Aid

Sierra Club Northern California/Nevada Regional Conservation Committee records, 1880-1992 (bulk 1970-1984)
BANC MSS 2005/296

Collection Finding Aid

Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter records, 1908-present
BANC MSS 71/291
(portion of collection is unprocessed and unavailable for use)
► Collection is minimally processed. Please email for a preliminary container listing.

Sierra Club Southwest Office records, 1900-2000 (bulk 1966-1996)
BANC MSS 98/134

Collection Finding Aid

Sierra Club Mother Lode Chapter records, 1939-present
BANC MSS 71/292

Collection Finding Aid

Sierra Club Foundation records, 1960-present
BANC MSS 89/230

Save the Redwoods League records, 1854-2013 (bulk 1917-2010)
BANC MSS 88/15

This collection documents the organization’s work to preserve redwood trees, and its role in the development and protection of state and national parks in California. It contains administrative and financial records, records from executive directors and councilors, materials related to California State Parks and Redwood National Park, subject files, publicity files, publications, and maps.
Collection Finding Aid

Echo Lakes Association records, 1931-1994
BANC MSS 84/153

This collection consists of correspondence and other working files related to the concerns of cabin owners regarding a variety of environmental and safety matters. Also includes the files of the Echo Lakes History Project, an oral history project sponsored by the Echo Lakes Association, which contain written responses to questionnaires, histories, and several studies regarding Echo Lakes.
► Collection Finding Aid

Earth Island Institute records, 1940-2012 (bulk 1982-2004)
BANC MSS 2009/129

This collection contains the records of Earth Island Institute, a Berkeley, California based not for profit environmental group founded in 1982 by David R. Brower. The collection primarily documents the organizational and administrative history of Earth Island Institute and two of its major projects supported through the International Marine Mammal Project campaigns: the Dolphin and Whale Project (including the Dolphin-Safe Tuna Campaign) and the Free Willy Keiko Foundation.
► Collection Finding Aid

Social protest collection, 1943-1982 (bulk 1960-1975)
 (microfilm use only, original documents restricted due to fragility)

This collection contains leaflets, flyers, posters, publications and ephemera that was gathered primarily on Sproul Plaza for the UC undergraduate library between 1969-1982. Of interest are the files on the environmental movement which include material from various organizations such as Get Oil Out and Greenpeace.
► Collection Finding Aid

Trustees for Conservation records, 1951-1975
BANC MSS 74/71

This collection contains the records of the Trustees for Conservation, a California environmental organization formed in 1954. The records document the legislative and fundraising activity of the Trustees for several major projects and campaigns, including the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964, the California State Park System, the San Francisco Bay Shoreline and Point Reyes National Seashore, and opposition to the Echo Park Dam on the Colorado River at the Dinosaur National Monument.
► Collection Finding Aid

Contra Costa Park Council records, 1951-1986
BANC MSS 82/37

This collection documents the Council’s collaboration with conservation organizations, planning officials, and lawmakers to promote active use of park land and preserve open space in Contra Costa County as well as around the Bay Area.
► Collection Finding Aid

Save San Francisco Bay Association records, 1953-2004 (bulk 1961-1990)
BANC MSS 87/29

The records of the Save San Francisco Bay Association document the work of the organization committed to preserving the San Francisco Bay as a natural resource. The collection covers the early history and development of the Association and includes Board of Director's meeting minutes, legal documents, reports studies, newsletters, field reports, and the files of the Citizens' Alliance, a coalition formed by the association in 1969.
Collection Finding Aid

Conservation Associates records, 1959-1979
BANC MSS 73/184

This collection contains correspondence with the Sierra Club and other conservation groups, along with legislators and state and federal agencies. Also included are memoranda, reports, and promotional literature concerning Redwood National Park, Point Reyes National Park, and the Rancho Montana de Oro.
► Collection Finding Aid

Friends of the Earth records, 1959-1988 (bulk 1969-1985)
BANC MSS 82/98

This collection includes documentation of domestic and international conservation campaigns from the origins of the Friends of the Earth organization in 1969 through the late 1980s. Included is significant documentation on legislation and elections related to numerous conservation issues such as national parks and forests, land use and planning, energy resources, water and air pollution, toxic pollutants and hazardous waste, and water quality.
► Collection Finding Aid

Arizona Toxics Information records, 1959-2001 (bulk 1970-2000)
BANC MSS 2003/101

This collection contains materials collected on various toxic hazards by Arizona Toxics Information, an advocacy group that helps bring about changes in hazardous materials policy and management in order to protect public, occupational and environmental health, and sustain cultural and natural resources. The collection includes a wide variety of materials on subjects such as ENSCO and hazardous waste plants in Arizona, the San Pedro Water Supply, air and water pollution on the U.S.-Mexico Border, NAFTA, and the effect of pesticides throughout the Southwest and Northwest.
► Collection Finding Aid

Friends of the River Foundation records, 1960-1996 (bulk 1974-1981)
BANC MSS 88/25

This collection contains documentation collected during the Friends of the River campaigns to preserve the Stanislaus River, stop construction of the New Melones Dam and protect other creeks and rivers through grassroots public awareness campaigns and water policy legislation.
► Collection Finding Aid

Oleari (Kenoli) records of the Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides, 1960-1994 (bulk 1973-1991)
BANC MSS 2005/241

This collection documents the activities of the Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP) and its California branch (CCAP). Included are extensive subject files and publications concerning pesticide and herbicide use, aerial spraying, vegetation management by the US Forest Service and other agencies, and the health and environmental effects of pesticide use.
► Collection Finding Aid

Bay Area Ridge Trail Council Records, 1961-2001 (bulk 1987-1998)
BANC MSS 2002/90

The bulk of the collection is comprised of trail planning files, documenting the mapping and construction of trail segments. Also included are a wide range of materials on California trails, parks, and open spaces as well as environmental restoration and preservation.
► Collection Finding Aid

Small Wilderness Area Preservation records, 1963-1980
BANC MSS 81/38

This collection contains the organizational records of Small Wilderness Area Preservation, a conservation organization founded for the purpose of buying up small parcels of land for preservation as nature parks and reserves.
► Collection Finding Aid

Ecology Action records, 1965-1988 (bulk 1968-1978)
BANC MSS 88/126

This collection consists of the records of a non-profit organization founded by Cliff Humphrey and Chuck Herrick in 1968 in Berkeley, California to promote an ecological life. Included in the collection is correspondence, Humphrey's writings, files relating to the various activities of the organization, including publications, events and political action and subject files regarding issues of interest to the group.
Collection Finding Aid

Tuolumne River Preservation Trust records, 1968-present (bulk 1981-1997)
BANC MSS 87/104

This collection provides detailed documentation of the administrative and legal activities of the Trust, as well as all aspects of the campaigns to win Wild and Scenic status for the Tuolumne River and environmental protection for the Clavey River. The bulk of the collection dates from 1981-1997, although material dating from 1968 is found in the files.
► Collection Finding Aid

Urban Habitat Program records, 1970-2001
BANC MSS 2002/65

This collections primarily contains material accumulated by Carl Anthony, co-founder in 1989, and Executive Director for twelve years. Included are his correspondence; professional activities materials, writings, teaching files, and resource subject files along with administrative records on the organization.
Collection Finding Aid

Rainforest Action Network records, 1980-2005
BANC MSS 2006/161
 (portion of collection is unprocessed and unavailable for use)

This collection contains subject files for Rainforest Action Network campaigns, Rainforest Action Groups, Rainforest Action Network publications, and small quantities of correspondence and photographs. Prominent among the campaign files is information pertaining to various oil companies, countries affected by rainforest logging, and the native U'Wa.
► Collection Finding Aid

Restore Hetch Hetchy records, 1987-2008 (bulk 1997-2003)
BANC MSS 2005/178

This small collection contains petitions, research, legal documents, publicity, photographs and other materials related to Restore Hetch Hetchy itself and environmentalism in general. Also contains correspondence of key figures in the organization including the notebooks of former Executive Director, Ron Good.

Arc Ecology records, 1987-2010
BANC MSS 2015/163

This collection contains office files, Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) records, and Environmental Impact Reports for Arc Ecology's work, primarily monitoring the closure and redevelopment of military bases in the San Francisco Bay Area.
► Collection is minimally processed. Please email for a preliminary container listing.

Mary Rose Kaczorowski collection of Save the Oaks materials, 2006-2008
BANC MSS 2012/115

This small collection contains printed materials, tree census and inventory list, ephemera, flyers, correspondence, newspaper clippings, photographs, and more related to a protest movement, known as Save the Oaks, against a UC Berkeley decision to remove coastal live oak trees on campus to construct a new sports training facility. The university's actions sparked three lawsuits, as well as a tree sit-in that ran from December 2006 to September 2008, when the trees in question were finally cut down.