Conservation Collection

The Conservation Collection at Denver Public Library documents the history of the conservation and environmental movement in the United States from the early 20th century to the present. The collection was established in 1960 by author, landscape architect, and conservationist Arthur H. Carhart, in cooperation with Denver City Librarian John Eastlick. In 1919, Carhart became the first landscape architect hired by the U.S. Forest Service, and later in his career, he became a writer of popular non-fiction and fiction books focused on conservation and resource management themes. 

Carhart amassed a wide-ranging network of conservation-minded public land employees, political figures, and activists. Those connections proved invaluable in building the collections at the newly established Conservation Library at the Denver Public Library. In addition to thousands of published books and serials, the Library’s Conservation Collection now includes nearly 200 individual archival collections of papers, organizational records, photographs, maps, and ephemera documenting the complicated work and history of conserving land, wildlife, and natural resources for the future.  

Organizations such as The Wilderness Society, The Student Conservation Association, American Farmland Trust, and The Nature Conservancy designated the Denver Public Library as the official repository for their historical records. Individuals who have contributed papers and writings include Ira Gabrielson, first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Howard Zahniser, Executive Secretary of The Wilderness Society; Enos Mills, author, lecturer, and founder of Rocky Mountain National Park; and Velma (Wild Horse Annie) Johnston, animal welfare activist who campaigned for federal protection of wild horses and burros. 

Contemporary researchers value the library’s collection as a destination for environmental history research. Recent Conservation Collection acquisitions include the papers of Dave Foreman, co-founder of Earth First!, and Gudrun “Gudy” Gaskill, a mountaineer regarded as the driving force behind the Colorado Trail. The Collection also includes non-profit and citizen organizations like the Citizens for Glenwood Canyon Scenic Corridor Records, to help expand the story of the conservation and environmental movement from a grassroots perspective. 

Research Tools

Environmental History (Gale)

Includes digitized archival material from the following Conservation Collections:

  • American Bison Society Records (CONS4)
  • Velma Johnston (Wild Horse Annie) Papers (CONS80)
  • Rosalie Edge Papers (CONS29)
  • Roger W. Toll Papers (CONS220)
  • United States Forest Service Collection (CONS74)
  • Bureau of Land Management Records (CONS10)

Search original historical documents about public land management, wildlife conservation, and individuals and organizations who shaped the American conservation movement.  

Available with library card or at any DPL location.