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Posts Tagged ‘archival collections’

When Mrs. B-logger and I moved from Washington, DC, to Durham in 2003, we only half-jokingly said we wished we could move our friends and some of our favorite restaurants and stores with us. When the Cady Lumber Corporation decided to move in 1924 to get access to more timber, its owners did just that. It moved all of its employees. And their families—800 people in all. From Louisiana to Arizona. This was the very definition of moving lock, stock, and barrel.

At the time, moving a lumber camp was not unheard of. A logging company would put the small houses and other buildings on railroad cars and move them to the next location a few miles down the line.

Logging camp cars.

Converted railcars often served as housing and offices for loggers. This one was used by the Crossett Lumber Company, Crossett, Arkansas. (FHS4448)

But in 1922, William Cady realized that his lumber and milling company had cut out nearly all the yellow pine around McNary, Louisiana. He realized that it would be cheaper to abandon the land than it would to undertake reforestation. He and his business partner James McNary had an unusual idea. They would buy an existing mill operation and relocate their employees to another region of the country. McNary and Cady wanted to keep their skilled loggers and mill labor because the owners felt they were the best at what they did.

McNary first scouted the Pacific Northwest and then Mexico. He then found the mill town of Cooley, Arizona, on the Apache Indian Reservation. He and Cady purchased the defunct Apache Lumber Company for $1.5 million in a deal that included all of Apache’s timber holdings and its milling operations in Cooley and Flagstaff. The deal had to be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and also the U.S. Forest Service because the agency oversaw timber on the reservation and because some of the timber was coming off of the Sitgreaves National Forest. In fact, nearly all of the timber Cady contracted for was on government land, and the government would pick up the cost of fire fighting and reforestation. Cady Lumber then spent $3.5 million to install an all-electric plant with three band saws. For marketing purposes, the company received permission from the federal government to rename Cooley as McNary. With that, it was time to pack.

On February 7, 1924, the last log in the McNary, Louisiana, plant was cut. Three days later employees boarded special trains with their baggage and equipment and moved west to the new home that awaited them. They were moving from the heat and humidity of Louisiana to a town at 7,300 feet above sea level, a place where they measure annual snowfall in feet. To say that there would be some adjustment required to get used to the new surroundings was an understatement. But it wasn’t just the weather.

Of the 500 employees who moved, almost all were African American. According to the 1920 federal census, there were 8,005 African Americans in the entire state of Arizona—or 2.4% of the state’s population. James McNary recorded in his autobiography that “there was a good deal of indignation in some quarters in Arizona over the importation” of the African American employees and their families but the threatened violence never materialized.

Once operations started in Arizona, the company also employed Native Americans and old homesteading Spanish and Anglo families in the area. According to McNary, each ethnic group constituted a quarter of the work force. Though living conditions in McNary, Arizona, were better than what was found in surrounding towns, it was nonetheless a company town (the company controlled all utilities, hospital, and schools, and owned the housing and only store in town)—and one that was segregated. Each group had its own section of town, with its own school. When adjusting to the climate or life in Arizona proved difficult for some African Americans, they left, only to be replaced by others coming from Louisiana who had heard about the good jobs and a degree of racial tolerance unheard of in the Jim Crow South.

The caption read, “A typical residence street in McNary, showing roomy, comfortable homes of employees of the Cady Lumber Company.” However, African American employees lived in a separate part of town called the “Quarters.” (below)

The company store. It was the only place in town where employees could shop.

In 1935, James McNary bought out William Cady after Cady Lumber collapsed and renamed the company Southwest Lumber Mills (later it became the Southwest Forest Industries.) Over the next two decades McNary modernized logging and milling operations and built a lumbering empire that after World War II “would challenge Weyerhaeuser, Georgia Pacific and other preeminent producers on the Pacific Coast.” He also became involved in the work of the National Lumber Manufacturers Association. McNary sold his business interests in 1952 and became a man of leisure, publishing his fascinating autobiography This Is My Life in 1956 (for example, active in Republican politics on a national level, McNary was pals with Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover).

Eventually operations began shifting to the more modern Flagstaff plant. With that, the migration of workers began again. After a fire in 1979 destroyed the lumber mill in McNary, the remaining workers moved out, leaving McNary, Arizona, as deserted as its namesake in Louisiana.

Cover image from a photo tour pamphlet in the Southwest Lumber Mills, Inc., file.

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Both the topic of James McNary and the towns that bear his name are ripe for research. One could look at the business, the man, or the towns— through the lenses of social, racial, and environmental histories. FHS has materials on Cady Lumber and its move from Louisiana to Arizona and life there among the big white pines. The move to Arizona and the history of the company was captured in a lengthy article in American Lumberman magazine in 1926. In addition to this article and McNary’s autobiography, we have the records of the National Lumber Manufacturers Association, which contains McNary’s correspondence from when he was its president from 1937 to 1939. The Cady Lumber Corporation materials include copies of the contracts signed by Apache Lumber in 1918 with the government and when Cady bought them out. We also have information on Southwest Forest Industries, including several annual reports and press releases from the 1980s. Secondary sources include Curtis Wienker’s article-length study of the town, “McNary: A Predominantly Black Company Town in Arizona” (Negro History Bulletin, 1974) and Arthur R. Gómez’s 2001 study “Industry and Indian Self-determination: Northern Arizona’s Apache Lumbering Empire, 1870-1970,” in Forests Under Fire: A Century of Ecosystem Mismanagement in the Southwest. The Cady operations, which at one point was the largest contract producer of timber in northern Arizona, are also discussed in a history of Region 3, Timeless Heritage. Speaking of northern Arizona, the Arizona Historical Society has some papers on Southwest Forest Industries and Northern Arizona University has images and 3 related oral histories.

The April 10, 1926, issue of “American Lumberman” magazine featured a 55-page article on the Cady Lumber Corporation operations in McNary and Flagstaff.

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Tonight, December 1st, President Barack Obama and his family will officially light the National Christmas Tree on the Ellipse south of the White House. The tree lighting ceremony dates back to 1923, when President Calvin Coolidge personally lit what was then called the National Community Christmas Tree. This first national tree was presented to Coolidge by Middlebury College President Dr. Paul D. Moody. The tree was cut from the Middlebury College forest preserve in the President’s home state of Vermont and sent via a special train car to Washington, D.C. The tree was erected on the Ellipse south of the White House grounds, where a crowd of 3,000 watched President Coolidge preside over the lighting on Christmas Eve, 1923. Since that time a variety of trees, both living and cut, originating from different states have served as the National Christmas Tree. The location of the tree has also changed over the years, moving from the Ellipse to Sherman Plaza, then Lafayette Park, the White House lawn, and back to its current spot on the Ellipse.

1923 National Christmas Tree

The original 1923 National Community Christmas Tree.

The FHS Archives features a collection documenting the first three decades of the lighting ceremony. The National Community Christmas Tree Records includes programs, photographs, correspondence, guest lists, invitations, news clippings, and more related to the planning of the event between 1923 and 1954. In honor of tonight’s tree lighting ceremony, below are a sampling of the historical items found in this great collection.
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Recently processed with the help of graduate student intern Shaun Trujillo, the American Tree Farm System (ATFS) Collection is now open to researchers. The tree farm movement began in June of 1941 with the dedication of the Clemons Tree Farm in Washington. Since then, the American Tree Farm System’s membership and focus have moved from one dominated by industrial forests to that of family-owned forests. Its history reflects the broader history of private forest ownership as well as the history of public-private cooperative forestry.

The records of the American Tree Farm System document the important history of tree farming in the U.S. The collection includes organizational records, press clippings, correspondence, inspection and certification records, publications, records of awards and conventions, and numerous photographs and slides of ATFS events and activities, as well as films of educational programming and public service announcements by famous tree farmers such as Andy Griffith. A complete inventory of the ATFS Collection is now available online.

Researchers interested in the ATFS will also want to explore related collections at FHS such as the records of the American Forest Institute and the National Forest Products Association. For more background information and access to additional historic documents on tree farming in the U.S., visit our new ATFS history page: www.foresthistory.org/ATFS.

Below you will find a few highlights from the American Tree Farm System Collection.

Smokey Bear and tree farmers

Smokey Bear making an appearance at a tree farmer certification ceremony.

1942 tree farm letter

1942 letter discussing the emerging tree farm standards.

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Last week I traveled to Alliston, Ontario, to meet with the Forest History Society of Ontario and to address the Ontario Forestry Association at their 62nd annual meeting. I went in part to present the FHS Fellow Award to both Dr. Ken Armson and Dr. Yvan Hardy. The Fellow Award is the Society’s highest honor, reserved for those who have made outstanding and persistent contributions to forest history or to Forest History Society programs.

Steve Anderson with Yvan Hardy (l) and Ken Armson (r) with their Fellow Award plaques.

Dr. Armson was recognized for his 50 years in teaching, research, policy and administration in forestry. As a professor of forestry at the University of Toronto for 26 years, he taught and conducted research in forest soils and silviculture. Last year it was his energy that helped establish the Forest History Society of Ontario. Dr. Hardy was recognized for his historic research to combat the spruce budworm, his work as Dean of the Faculty of Forestry and Geodesy at Laval University, and his administrative roles in the federal government including service as Assistant Deputy Minister of the Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada. As well, he served 15 years on the Forest History Society Board of Directors, including 8 years as co-Vice-Chairman. During the meeting, FHS Board member James Farrell received the Ontario Forestry Association Award for his outstanding contributions to the field of forestry education in Canada and the world, and FHS Board member Mark Kuhlberg spoke about the forest history of Ontario and its impact on communities.

My banquet talk was about “Forest Culture and Storytelling: Inspired by the Forest.” It highlighted the uncertainty in the term “forest culture,” indicating that it has only been during the last 20 years that the term has shown up in the literature in the broad way it is being used today. I also touched on art and literature inspired by the forest and reviewed how a collection of 400 novels in the FHS’ Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Library traces public opinion about forests and forestry during the last century, and how art and literature played a particularly poignant role in the establishment of forestry in America. I ended with a reading of the poem Chaudiere by Douglas Malloch, the “Poet of the Woods.”

Chaudiere Falls, around 1900. Courtesy of Ottawa Riverrunners website.

The newly formed Forest History Society of Ontario also had their first annual meeting in conjunction with the OFA meeting. The FHSO is the fourth provincial forestry organization to be established. I shared the news about FHS’s new two-year effort in collaboration with the Network in Canadian History & Environment (NiCHE) and the Canadian Forest Service to spearhead the preservation of Canada’s forest history. Efforts include surveying repositories in Canada to determine their willingness and readiness to accept new collections in forest history; seeking out valuable records and collections that need to be preserved; and then trying to facilitate those records to reach an official repository. David Brownstein, sessional faculty at the University of British Columbia, has been contracted in a part-time position to help with the effort. If you know of documents or collections in need of preservation, please contact David or FHS Archivist Eben Lehman. The project will be conducted in cooperation with the provincial forest history associations as well as forestry associations and others who share that goal.

If you want to learn more or support the provincial forest history organizations in Canada, they can be found at:

In addition to our Issue Series book, Canada’s Forests, we have several articles about Canadian forest history available from Forest History Today in PDF format:

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Gifford Pinchot famously wrote in Breaking New Ground, “Forestry is Tree Farming. Forestry is handling trees so that one crop follows another. To grow trees as a crop is Forestry.”

While next June marks the official 70th anniversary of the first certified tree farm, the concept of renewable forestry can be traced back to the turn of the last century. The rise of the tree farm movement in America marked a shift in perspective towards privately owned forest land as a sustainable resource worthy of long-term conservation and management. Private landowners became important figures, working on behalf of the public’s interest as the stewards of this valuable resource.

Tree Farm button

Promotional button commemorating 40 years of the Tree Farm System.

The Forest History Society Library and Archives recently received 24 cartons of archival documents from the American Tree Farm System (ATFS). Currently being processed, the collection includes historical material such as essays from the 1940s and 1950s attempting to define the burgeoning movement, inspection and certification records of some of the first tree farms, and early press clippings. The majority of the collection’s documents cover the organization’s activities from 1980 to 2005, and include publications such as Tree Farmer Magazine and Green America, records of various awards for outstanding forestry such as the Tree Farmer of the Year and Inspector of the Year, minutes and related materials from annual conventions and committees, records from educational initiatives such as Project Learning Tree, and materials from dedications  such as the certification of President Jimmy Carter’s tree farm. The collection also includes numerous photos and slides of ATFS events and activities, as well as films of educational programming, and public service announcements by famous tree farmers such as actress Andie MacDowell, musician Chuck Leavell, President Carter, and the incomparable Andy Griffith.

The Clemons Tree Farm, a 120,000-acre plot in Washington State publicly dedicated by the Weyerhaeuser Timber Company on June 12, 1941, is recognized as the first official tree farm. The tree farm movement originated as an initiative of industrial firms such as Weyerhaeuser managing large tracts of forestland to demonstrate self-regulation and sustainability. Over the years the ATFS has grown to include smaller private landowners, with the system currently estimated at 24 million acres of certified forestland managed by over 90,000 tree farmers.

One of the videos included in the collection is a 4-minute public service announcement, produced by the Weyerhaeuser Company in celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Clemons Tree Farm, that gives a general overview of the history and mission of the American Tree Farm System:

Pictured below are a few other items of interest from the collection:

Tree Farm certificate

An official certificate of membership to the American Tree Farm System. (click to enlarge)

Tree Farm Map

A Weyerhaeuser advertisement depicting a map of the 100-year plan for the Mount St. Helens Tree Farm, circa 1950. (click to enlarge)

Tree Farm baseball bat

A Louisville Slugger baseball bat custom made with the Tree Farm logo to commemorate the Domino’s Lodge Tree Farm dedication on March 19, 1988. (click to enlarge)

Tree Farm inspection document

An official inspection document of the original Clemons Tree Farm in Montesano, Washington, 1943. (click to enlarge)

For more information about the history of the American Tree Farm System you can view an article by Richard Lewis entitled “Tree Farming: A Voluntary Conservation Program,” from the July 1981 issue of the Journal of Forest History.

For a visual history, also see the following online galleries from the FHS Photo Collection:

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On this day in 1935, the Society of American Foresters presented its first-ever award, the Sir William Schlich Memorial Award Medal, to President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was recognized for his “interest and effective work for forest conservation,” with specific acclamation given for his establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Test ststu

(Standing, left to right) SAF officers H.H. Chapman, E.H. Clapp, and Franklin W. Reed present the Schlich Award to President Franklin Roosevelt in the White House, January 29, 1935.

The award was named for Sir William Schlich, a 19th-century German-born forester, who worked extensively in India for the British government developing forest management and education programs.  Schlich served as a member of the Royal Indian Forest Service from 1867 to 1885, moved to England and became a British citizen in 1886, and in 1905 founded the School of Forestry at Oxford.  Following Schlich’s death in 1925, a fund was raised by Oxford to establish an award in his name.  Schlich awards were given in Australia, New Zealand, and India, before the trustees of the award elected the U.S. to be the next country of recipient.  At this time the Society of American Foresters adopted the award as a permanent fixture within their organization.

Schlich Award Medal

The award has been presented by SAF to a total of 33 individuals since 1935.  Many of the winners over the past 70 years represent a who’s who of major figures from the world of forestry — from early winners such as Gifford Pinchot (1940), Henry S. Graves (1944), and William B. Greeley (1946) to more recent recipients such as USFS researcher Robert E. Buckman (1994) and our own Harold K. (Pete) Steen (2000), Executive Director of the Forest History Society from 1978-1997.

The FHS Archives houses numerous materials relating to the award and its past winners, including items from the Society of American Foresters Records documenting the award selection process through the years.  The archives also feature several collections with newly published online finding aids representing winners such as Tom Gill (1954), William E. Towell (1978), and Harold K. Steen (2000).

For more on the history of the Sir William Schlich Memorial Award, see “The First American Forestry Award” by Harold K. Steen, from Forest History Today, Spring 2000.

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In honor of the season, Peeling Back the Bark would like to feature a small selection of just a few of the holiday cards and greetings found in various Forest History Society archival collections.  The following selected materials represent just a fraction of the many collections available in the FHS Archives.  Below each image can be found some brief caption information and the collection name.  Click on any of the images to view a larger version.  Happy holidays!

Smokey card

Smokey Bear Christmas card, from Rudolph Wendelin Papers.

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