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The Library of Congress > Teachers > Classroom Materials > Collection Connections > The Evolution of the Conservation Movement

[Detail] The Harvest Moon. Currier & Ives, between 1860 and 1870.

Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Using monographs and congressional debates found in the collection, students can analyze the persuasive arguments that helped secure the success of the conservation movement.

For example, by studying the National Park Conference of 1917, students can review the testimony of Mr. Enos Mills, of Estes Park, Colorado, who tells the story of the first national park, Yellowstone. Mills uses the history of Yellowstone to set out persuasive arguments in favor of wide public access to the national park system. Mills says:


(page 36) Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, the Yellowstone was the first national park in the world. There is an inspiring story in connection with the making of this park.... Prominent Montana men...had found the Yellowstone, had found it greater than the wildest, strangest stories that had ever been told concerning it. ...They had seen the marvelous canyon and the white waterfall that went plunging over into it. They had seen the petrified forests, the greatest geological wonder of the world. They had seen those strange, poetic geysers. They had seen all of those things.

But this night they were camping near the geysers, and a number of the men were discussing they might obtain control of the Yellowstone wonderland that they might exploit it and make a fortune out of itóa perfectly natural thing for the American business man to think of. But there was one man, a statesman, who sat by the camp fire for a time and said nothing. Finallyóand I hope you will tell your children of this manóCornelius Hodges rose to his feet. ìBoys,î he said, ìyou are on the wrong track. The Government owns this wonderland, and it ought forever to own it. This region ought to become a national park for the benefit and welfare of all mankind.î

Search on John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and National Park Conference to find understandable arguments in favor of the conservation movement.