Author Bibi Gaston will give a book talk on Gifford Pinchot. The book provides readers with a series of extraordinary first-hand accounts of the early days of conservation as told by the first men and women to serve under Gifford Pinchot and Theodore Roosevelt in the U.S. Forest Service.
The origin of the scientific conservation effort in the US began with Gifford Pinchot, first Chief of the US Forest Service. Pinchot, born in Simsbury, Ct. in 1865, served under President Theodore Roosevelt between the years 1905-1910. He also served two terms as the Governor of Pennsylvania. Bibi Gaston discovered 5,000 pages of correspondence while researching the life of her grandmother, Rosamond Pinchot, Gifford’s niece. In this treasure trove of primary source material, one finds on-the-ground reports of surveying, water conservation, trail building, forestry, erosion control efforts, nursery building, and much much more. In a response to a call for narratives he sent out to his former Forest Rangers between the years 1937-1941, Pinchot received 225 responses that ranged in length from 2 paragraphs to 150 pages. The correspondence, known as the “Old Timers” Collection, housed at the Library of Congress, presents us with a tremendous resource for various reasons. As we consider the scale of environmental issues facing us, the “Old Timers” material serves as a blueprint of effective group effort. It also takes us back to a time where public service was considered a higher calling and an opportunity for young people searching for a direction. The letters reveal timeless truths including the fact that most young people would prefer to work outdoors. The US Forest Service and Park Service both spring from ideas and ideals hatched at the turn of the century. Thus, the “Old Timers” Collection represent a remarkable body of material for us to learn from.
Bibi Gaston is a Landscape Architect and author. Her first book, “The Loveliest Woman in America: A Tragic Actress, Her Lost Diaries and Her Granddaughter’s Search for Home” was published by William Morrow/ Harper Collins in hardback in 2008 and by Harper Perennial in a paperback edition in 2009. “The Loveliest Woman in America” was selected as a finalist for the prestigious Literary Arts Society’s 2010 Oregon Book Award and featured as book of the month in March 2009 by the Center for the Book at the Library of Congress.
Her second book, “Gifford Pinchot and the First Foresters: The Untold Story of the Brave Men and Women Who Launched the American Conservation Movement,” was published in 2016.
Books will be available for sale and signing.