Rachel Carson

Scientist, author, and activist

In 1962, Rachel Louise Carson’s  (1907–1964) revolutionary volume Silent Spring sounded an alarm. The shells of birds’ eggs were being perilously weakened by exposure to dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), Carson warned; if environmental protections weren’t enacted around synthetic pesticides developed during World War II, nature’s delicate balance would be disrupted and humans would awaken to a silent spring. The book has sold millions of copies since publication, galvanizing environmental movements in the United States and beyond.

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson, 1962

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date published
Carson, Rachel
The book Silent Spring by biologist and nature writer Rachel Carson was published in 1962. Carson's research on the effect of insecticides (specifically DDT) on bird populations coupled with her moving prose made Silent Spring a best-seller, though chemical companies attacked it as unscientific. While noting the benefits of pesticides in fighting insect-borne disease and boosting crop yields, Carson warned about the invisible dangers of indiscriminate insecticide use and its unintended effect on nature. The publication of Silent Spring led to an increased public awareness of humanity’s impact on nature and is credited as the beginning of the modern environmental movement, leading to the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970 and the banning of DDT in 1972.
Currently not on view
Environmental Movement
Environmental History
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Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Science & Mathematics
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Gift of Joan E. Boudreau
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National Museum of American History
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paper (overall material)
cloth (overall material)
overall: 22 cm x 15.8 cm x 4 cm; 8 21/32 in x 6 7/32 in x 1 9/16 in
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