THE AUDUBON ARK: A History of the National Audubon Society by

THE AUDUBON ARK: A History of the National Audubon Society

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Would you believe the founding father of the first Audubon Society was George Bird Grinell? In 1886, he started a ""conscience"" column in Forest and Stream that evolved into a separate Audubon Magazine, only to expire in 1888. A la the phoenix, the Society was born again in 1905 and remains alive and well today, the ""gray lady"" of conservation. Graham, field editor of Audubon magazine, has written an authorized but not whitewashed history, painstakingly assembled from magazine files and memories of the great and colorful. The Society began by attacking the millinery industry that fed the rage for women's hats adorned with egret and heron plumes, even whole songbirds. Hoggish game-hunters were also anathema, for their wanton kills or for supplying game for jaded appetites. Unlike today's extreme animal rights' groups, the Society rarely took an absolutist stand. Indeed, early support for the cause came from sportsmen Who saw the value of husbanding wildlife resources. A notable exception was Rosalie Edge, a formidable ""hellcat"" who attacked the Society for not declaring all life sacred and used dirty tricks to unseat the leadership. The Audubon survived Rosalie; it survived the loss of junior members after WW II (it was no longer seemly to ask kids to pay money for bird educational materials); it survived near bankruptcy and rebellion against the New York ""elite"" from the rank and file in the state chapters. And it can lay claim to passing some of the best laws of the land to protect and preserve. Graham's commendable history credits a wonderful cast of naturalists, politicians, and philanthropists for the Society's success (e.g., Roger Tory Peterson, Elvis Stahr, Grace Rainey Rogers). He makes clear, too, that survival has to do with its evolution from a save-the-birds mission to a save-the-planet/love-the-planet mentality.

Pub Date: Sept. 26th, 1990
Publisher: Knopf