Pioneers of Environmental Protection
Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Born: April 7, 1890 in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Died: May 14, 1998 in her home in Coconut Grove, Florida
Graduated from Wellesley College in 1912, elected "Class Orator"
Won many O. Henry awards for published short stories
1947 book The Everglades: River of Grass continues in print
Helped establish the Everglades National Park in 1947
Spearheaded The Friends of the Everglades, a conservation organization, in 1969
1.3 million-acre Everglades wilderness area dedicated in her name on the Park's fiftieth anniversary
The untiring efforts of Marjory Stoneman Douglas, a writer and environmentalist who fell in love with the Everglades in the early 1900's, were instrumental to protecting the Everglades existence.
As an assistant editor of The Miami Herald, Douglas wrote editorials urging protection of Florida's unique regional character in the face of rapid commercial development. After leaving the paper in 1923, she devoted herself to her literary career, writing extensively about south Florida conservation. In 1947, Douglas published The Everglades: River of Grass as part of The Rivers of America Series. This book, a guide and a natural/political history, not only raised awareness regarding the Everglades but also helped to diminish the national misperception of wetlands as swamps. Still in print, Everglades: River of Grass sells more than 10,000 copies a year.
Douglas became a leader of the successful campaigns for the establishment of Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park. In 1969, she helped to found the conservation organization Friends of the Everglades and spearheaded legislation to protect the parks and their wildlife. To defend this fragile ecosystem, she gave speeches and went head-to-head with government authorities.
Although protecting the Everglades was her main passion, Douglas worked for a variety of causes. Aside from the land itself, she was especially drawn to the endangered Florida panther and to ibises. She was an early suffragist and promoted civil rights. In the Miami area, she worked to improve housing and bathroom facilities for her black neighbors, and she started a Baby Milk Fund for families who couldn't afford milk.
Today, you can visit the Everglades, her home or an adjacent Mediterranean-style house, which will soon house an environmental education and research center.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas was proof that one voice can make a difference.
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