Google Doodles Rachel Louise Carson's 107th Birthday
Google's latest doodle marks the 107th birth anniversary of American marine biologist, author and conservationist, Rachel Louise Carson. Born in 1907, Carson's work was mainly focused in the fields of marine biology, ecology, pesticides and nature writing. Rachel Louise Carson was also credited with bringing global attention to the problems associated with the conservation of the environment.
Rachel Louise Carson was born in Springdale, Pennsylvania and studied at the Chatham University and, later, the John Hopkins University. Her research into the harmful effects of pesticides on marine life came after studying the synthetic pesticides developed during the Second World War.
The doodle shows Rachel Louise Carson, standing amidst a vast expanse of marine and plant life and birds with a notebook, a backpack and a pair of binoculars. Google is written in the middle in a calligraphic font.
Carson's first book, The Sea Around Us, released in 1951 and was a bestseller. It also won her the US National Book Award. Her three books, The Sea Around Us (1951), The Edge of the Sea (1955) and Silent Spring (1962) were described as the Sea Trilogy. Silent Spring (1962) was a landmark as it led to the reversal of the policy on the use of pesticides.
Rachel Louise Carson's efforts were concentrated towards the direct ban of DDT. While she didn't live to see that, in the year 1972 the Environmental Defense Fund and other allied groups succeeded in securing a phase out of the pesticide. It also led to the formation of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act of 1962 in the US.
Rachel Louise Carson passed away in 1964, after having been weakened with her treatment for breast cancer she encountered a respiratory infection and eventually suffered a fatal heart attack on April 14, 1964.
Rachel Louise Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of freedom posthumously by President Jimmy Carter.
Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964) was an American marine biologist and conservationist whose book Silent Spring and other writings are credited with advancing the global environmental movement.
Carson began her career as an aquatic biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award, recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. This sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the depths.
Late in the 1950s, Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people. Although Silent Spring was met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.
Carson was born on May 27, 1907, on a small family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania, just up the Allegheny River from Pittsburgh. She was the daughter of Maria Frazier (McLean) and Robert Warden Carson, an insurance salesman. An avid reader, she also spent a lot of time exploring around her family's 65-acre (26 ha) farm. She began writing stories (often involving animals) at age eight, and had her first story published at age eleven. She especially enjoyed the St. Nicholas Magazine (which carried her first published stories), the works of Beatrix Potter, and the novels of Gene Stratton Porter, and in her teen years, Herman Melville, Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. The natural world, particularly the ocean, was the common thread of her favorite literature. Carson attended Springdale's small school through tenth grade, then completed high school in nearby Parnassus, Pennsylvania, graduating in 1925 at the top of her class of forty-five students.
At the Pennsylvania College for Women (today known as Chatham University), as in high school, Carson was somewhat of a loner. She originally studied English, but switched her major to biology in January 1928, though she continued contributing to the school's student newspaper and literary supplement. Though admitted to graduate standing at Johns Hopkins University in 1928, she was forced to remain at the Pennsylvania College for Women for her senior year due to financial difficulties; she graduated magna cum laude in 1929. After a summer course at the Marine Biological Laboratory, she continued her studies in zoology and genetics at Johns Hopkins in the fall of 1929.
After her first year of graduate school, Carson became a part-time student, taking an assistantship in Raymond Pearl's laboratory, where she worked with rats and Drosophila, to earn money for tuition. After false starts with pit vipers and squirrels, she completed a dissertation project on the embryonic development of the pronephros in fish. She earned a master's degree in zoology in June 1932. She had intended to continue for a doctorate, but in 1934 Carson was forced to leave Johns Hopkins to search for a full-time teaching position to help support her family. In 1935, her father died suddenly, leaving Carson to care for her aging mother and making the financial situation even more critical. At the urging of her undergraduate biology mentor Mary Scott Skinker, she settled for a temporary position with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, writing radio copy for a series of weekly educational broadcasts entitled "Romance Under the Waters". The series of fifty-two seven-minute programs focused on aquatic life and was intended to generate public interest in fish biology and in the work of the bureau—a task the several writers before Carson had not managed. Carson also began submitting articles on marine life in the Chesapeake Bay, based on her research for the series, to local newspapers and magazines.
Carson's supervisor, pleased with the success of the radio series, asked her to write the introduction to a public brochure about the fisheries bureau; he also worked to secure her the first full-time position that became available. Sitting for the civil service exam, she outscored all other applicants and, in 1936, became only the second woman to be hired by the Bureau of Fisheries for a full-time, professional position, as a junior aquatic biologist.
Early career and publications
At the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, Carson's main responsibilities were to analyze and report field data on fish populations, and to write brochures and other literature for the public. Using her research and consultations with marine biologists as starting points, she also wrote a steady stream of articles for The Baltimore Sun and other newspapers. However, her family responsibilities further increased in January 1937 when her older sister died, leaving Carson as the sole breadwinner for her mother and two nieces.
In July 1937, the Atlantic Monthly accepted a revised version of an essay, "The World of Waters", that she had originally written for her first fisheries bureau brochure; her supervisor had deemed it too good for that purpose. The essay, published as "Undersea", was a vivid narrative of a journey along the ocean floor. It marked a major turning point in Carson's writing career. Publishing house Simon & Schuster, impressed by "Undersea", contacted Carson and suggested that she expand it into book form. Several years of writing resulted in Under the Sea Wind (1941), which received excellent reviews but sold poorly. In the meantime, Carson's article-writing success continued—her features appeared in Sun Magazine, Nature, and Collier's.
Carson attempted to leave the Bureau (by then transformed into the Fish and Wildlife Service) in 1945, but few jobs for naturalists were available as most money for science was focused on technical fields in the wake of the Manhattan Project. In mid-1945, Carson first encountered the subject of DDT, a revolutionary new pesticide (lauded as the "insect bomb" after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) that was only beginning to undergo tests for safety and ecological effects. DDT was but one of Carson's many writing interests at the time, and editors found the subject unappealing; she published nothing on DDT until 1962.
Carson rose within the Fish and Wildlife Service, supervising a small writing staff by 1945 and becoming chief editor of publications in 1949. Though her position provided increasing opportunities for fieldwork and freedom in choosing her writing projects, it also entailed increasingly tedious administrative responsibilities. By 1948, Carson was working on material for a second book, and had made the conscious decision to begin a transition to writing full-time. That year, she took on a literary agent, Marie Rodell; they formed a close professional relationship that would last the rest of Carson's career.
Oxford University Press expressed interest in Carson's book proposal for a life history of the ocean, spurring her to complete the manuscript of what would become The Sea Around Us by early 1950. Chapters appeared in Science Digest and the Yale Review the latter chapter, "The Birth of an Island", winning the American Association for the Advancement of Science's George Westinghouse Science Writing Prize. Nine chapters were serialized in The New Yorker beginning June 1951 and the book was published July 2, 1951, by Oxford University Press. The Sea Around Us remained on the New York Times Best Seller List for 86 weeks, was abridged by Reader's Digest, won the 1952 National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Burroughs Medal, and resulted in Carson's being awarded two honorary doctorates. She also licensed a documentary film based on it. The Sea's success led to the republication of Under the Sea Wind, which became a bestseller itself. With success came financial security, and Carson was able to give up her job in 1952 to concentrate on writing full-time.
Carson was inundated with speaking engagements, fan mail and other correspondence regarding The Sea Around Us, along with work on the documentary script that she had secured the right to review. She was very unhappy with the final version of the script by writer, director and producer Irwin Allen; she found it untrue to the atmosphere of the book and scientifically embarrassing, describing it as "a cross between a believe-it-or-not and a breezy travelogue." She discovered, however, that her right to review the script did not extend to any control over its content. Allen proceeded in spite of Carson's objections to produce a very successful documentary. It won the 1953 Oscar for Best Documentary, but Carson was so embittered by the experience that she never again sold film rights to her work.
Relationship with Dorothy Freeman
Carson moved with her mother to Southport Island, Maine, in 1953, and in July of that year met Dorothy Freeman (1898–1978) the beginning of an extremely close relationship that would last the rest of Carson's life. A summer resident of the island along with her husband, Freeman had written to Carson to welcome her. Freeman had read The Sea Around Us, a gift from her son, and was excited to have the prominent author as a neighbor. Carson's biographer, Linda Lear, writes that "Carson sorely needed a devoted friend and kindred spirit who would listen to her without advising and accept her wholly, the writer as well as the woman." She found this in Freeman. The two women had a number of common interests, nature chief among them, and began exchanging letters regularly while apart. They would share summers for the remainder of Carson's life, and meet whenever else their schedules permitted.
In regards to the extent of their relationship, commentators have said that: "the expression of their love was limited almost wholly to letters and very occasional farewell kisses or holding of hands". Freeman shared parts of Carson's letters with her husband to help him understand the relationship, but much of their correspondence was carefully guarded. Shortly before Carson's death, she and Freeman destroyed hundreds of letters. The surviving correspondence was published in 1995 as Always, Rachel: The Letters of Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, 1952–1964: An Intimate Portrait of a Remarkable Friendship, edited by Freeman's granddaughter. According to one reviewer, the pair "fit Carolyn Heilbrun's characterization of a strong female friendship, where what matters is 'not whether friends are homosexual or heterosexual, lovers or not, but whether they share the wonderful energy of work in the public sphere
Weakened from breast cancer and her treatment regimen, Carson became ill with a respiratory virus in January 1964. Her condition worsened, and in February, doctors found that she had severe anemia from her radiation treatments and in March they discovered that the cancer had reached her liver. She died of a heart attack on April 14, 1964,
in her home in Silver Spring, Maryland.
After Carson's death, her remains were cremated. Half the ashes were buried in her mother's grave at Parklawn Memorial Cemetery in Rockville, Maryland.
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