Legacy of Wilderness Exhibit, Vida Ellison Gallery, 7th Floor, Sept. 2-Nov. 9, 2014

See all digitized items from the 2014 Legacy of Wilderness Exhibit in our digital collections.


​The Wilderness Concept

American notions of wilderness have evolved over time. Before our modern understanding of “wilderness,” people’s relationships with the outdoors, nature or uninhabited lands varied widely. Early settlers in America thought of nature as a fearful unknown, inhabited by dangerous and savage creatures.

By the late nineteenth century, the Industrial Revolution had drastically impacted the American landscape. Resources were being depleted, air and water were being polluted, and wildlife was being over-hunted or uprooted by disappearing habitat. Conservationists began to organize to preserve natural spaces for future generations. By the middle of the twentieth century, countries such as the United States, Canada, and Britain created legislation in order to ensure that the most fragile and beautiful environments would be protected for generations to come. Today, there is a stronger movement taking place, with a deeper understanding of habitat conservation with the aim of protecting delicate habitats and preserving biodiversity on a global scale.

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