Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Saving Florida: Women's Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Saving Florida: Women's Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century

Article excerpt

Saving Florida: Women's Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century. By Leslie Kemp Poole. (Gainesville and other cities: University Press of Florida, 2015. Pp. x, 274. $34.95, ISBN 978-0-8130-6081-1.)

Among the most regrettable missing elements in the historiography of environmentalism is the role of women. Leslie Kemp Poole has gone some way toward addressing that serious shortcoming. In Saving Florida: Women's Fight for the Environment in the Twentieth Century, Poole tells the little-known story of women's leadership on environmental issues in the Sunshine State. In women's groups, in the broader environmental movement, and in notable individual careers, Florida women played leading roles in protecting their state's natural heritage.

Poole's study does not stop at the state line, however. She focuses on efforts in Florida but always connects them to the environmental movement as a whole. As the conservation movement gained support across the country early in the twentieth century, Laura Norcross Marrs led the Florida Audubon Society's efforts against plume hunters, and May Mann Jennings helped the Florida Forestry Association protect the state's trees. In the 1910s, while John Muir struggled to save the Hetch Hetchy Valley from being drowned by a reservoir for San Francisco, Jennings and Mary Barr Munroe championed the creation of Royal Palm State Park, the first step toward designating Everglades National Park decades later. So central were women's efforts to conservation that Muir's own opponents drew him in a skirt to suggest that he fought for a woman's cause. In the 1960s Marjorie Harris Carr took on the Cross Florida Barge Canal because of its potential ecological impact, years before the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 made such impact a subject of law. In the 1970s, as the environmental movement battled pollution, Florida state representative Mary Grizzle crafted legislation to protect Tampa Bay from municipal waste.

Saving Florida keeps track of women's rights nationally and shows how those shifting rights shaped environmental activism. …

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