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Highlights Archives

Earth Day Collected and Shared

Gaylord Nelson in the Apostle Islands, 1967
WHI 56854

"Tuesday: Atlantic City at 9 am, Boston at 2:15 pm, Madison at 7:15, Milwaukee at 10. Wednesday: Bloomington at 9:30 am, Denver at 2, Berkeley at 8:15 [then] Los Angeles. Back to Washington. A missile gone berserk? No, it's our Sen. Nelson, crisscrossing the country as he evangelizes for the environment." That is how the Milwaukee Journal reported on April 28, 1970, about Earth Day founder Senator Gaylord Nelson's itinerary for the very first Earth Day campaign 43 years ago this month. The former Wisconsin governor and then U.S. senator received 500 invitations to speak across the country. That first Earth Day he spoke in 10 states and the District of Columbia about the need to have an organized nonpartisan effort to raise the nation's environmental consciousness.

'Quest for a Quality of Life'

Among the Earth Day articles and items in the Wisconsin Historical Society's collections is Gaylord Nelson's own May 1970 newsletter column, "As I See It," recalling the cross-country campaign that started the Earth Day tradition. Nelson wrote: "Earth Day showed that the people in this country are prepared to organize effective, nonpartisan environmental political organizations across the land from the local level to the state and to the national level. Then the real beginning, symbolized by the spirit of Earth Day, will have marked a beginning of a quest for a quality of life."

Earth Day Resources Online and in Print

The Wisconsin Historical Society's online Earth Day Gallery offers a collection of pictures from that day — and from throughout Nelson's life. You can read more about Nelson and the environmental movement in Wisconsin in our online collection, Turning Points in Wisconsin History.

The senator's quest to protect the environment was also captured for young readers in a Wisconsin Historical Society Press book, 'Gaylord Nelson: Champion of Our Earth' by Sheila Terman Cohen. The book is part of the Press' Badger Biographies series and includes a glossary of terms, sidebars on World War II, DDT and several facets of the environmental movement, plus activities and discussion questions.

Environmental Books on Display

The "Gaylord Nelson" book will be featured as part of a Wisconsin Historical Society Press environmental book exhibit and sale at this year's Nelson Institute Earth Day Conference, held April 15 at Monona Terrace in Madison.

The booth will also feature an in-booth book signing event from 10 am to noon with William Tishler, author of the book, 'Jens Jensen: Writings Inspired by Nature,' which features the writings of one of Wisconsin's great naturalists, landscapers and thinkers. Additional Press books on conservation and nature-related topics include:

:: Posted April 4, 2013

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