Published on Aug 1, 2015
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 some environmental problems that she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was the book 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.
A variety of groups ranging from government institutions to environmental and conservation organizations to scholarly societies have celebrated Carson’s life and work since her death. Perhaps most significantly, on June 9, 1980, Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the United States A 17¢ Great Americans series postage stamp was issued in her honor the following year; several other countries have since issued Carson postage as well.
Carson’s birthplace and childhood home in Springdale, Pennsylvania — now known as the Rachel Carson Homestead—became a National Register of Historic Places site, and the nonprofit Rachel Carson Homestead Association was created in 1975 to manage it. Her home in Colesville, Maryland where she wrote Silent Spring was named a National Historic Landmark in 1991. Near Pittsburgh, a 35.7 miles (57 km) hiking trail, maintained by the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, was dedicated to Carson in 1975. A Pittsburgh bridge was also renamed in Carson’s honor as the Rachel Carson Bridge. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection State Office Building in Harrisburg is named in her honor. Elementary schools in Gaithersburg, Montgomery County, Maryland, Sammamish, Washington and San Jose, California  were named in her honor, as were middle schools in Beaverton, Oregon and Herndon, Virginia  (Rachel Carson Middle School), and a high school in Brooklyn, New York.
Two research vessels currently sail in the US bearing the name R/V Rachel Carson. One is on the west coast, owned by MBARI, and the other is on the east coast, operated by the University of Maryland. Another vessel of the name, now scrapped, was a former naval vessel obtained and converted by the US EPA. it operated on the Great Lakes.