“Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary in life.”
Rachel Carson was a shy, unassuming girl who loved nature, books, and writing. She grew up to be one of the 20th century’s strongest champions of the environment.
- Rachel Carson was born in 1907 and spent her early childhood on a farm in Pennsylvania. Her mother was a school teacher who taught Rachel to love books, learning, and the natural world.
- Rachel always wanted to be a writer and published her first article when she was 10-years-old.
- Rachel majored in biology at Pennsylvania College for Women, during a time when few women went to college. She earned a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University.
- After college, Rachel wrote three popular books about the ocean. She began working as an aquatic biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and soon became editor-in-chief at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- After World War II, Americans became convinced that science could solve all problems. The pesticide DDT, which had been used during the war, became a popular chemical for combating mosquitoes in the U.S. Rachel was concerned that this widespread use would have serious consequences for wildlife.
- In 1962, she published her landmark book Silent Spring, which detailed her observations of the long-lasting problems that can be caused by the careless use of pesticides. The pesticide industry responded by trying to damage her reputation. Carson was a naturally shy and reserved person, but she quietly kept speaking out.
- Carson died in 1964. At the time of her death, she probably felt discouraged by the lack of support and attention people were giving to her message. Since her death, though, we’ve come to understand that she was right. DDT was banned and today, both public and private groups work to better understand and manage pesticide use.
Questions and Answers
Question: Did Rachel Carson have a family and children?
Answer: Carson never married. Carson’s mother lived with her, acting as her secretary and housekeeper, for most of Carson’s adult life. When Carson’s sister died, she and her mother took in her sister’s daughters, raising them. She also adopted a grandnephew after his parents’ deaths.
Watch a documentary about Rachel Carson’s inspirational life.