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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 Issues Analysis

The central issue, conservation, is shown throughout the collection as the battle to balance human needs with the environment. Students can study issues such as the relationship between humans and wildlife; the preservation of public lands for human enjoyment; and the use of natural resources.

For example, students could trace debate on conservation of natural resources through the collection, and find resources such as The Fight for Conservation, a 1910 book by Gifford Pinchot. Pinchot writes:

Gifford Pinchot, half-length portrait

Gifford Pinchot December 22, 1921.


(page 109) The American people have evidently made up their minds that our natural resources must be conserved. That is good. But it settles only half the question. For whose benefit shall they be conserved for the benefit of the many, or for the use and profit of the few? The great conflict now being fought will decide. There is no other question before us that begins to be so important, or that will be so difficult to straddle, as the great question between special interest and equal opportunity, between the privileges of the few and the rights of the many, between government by men for human welfare and government by money for profit, between the men who stand for the Roosevelt policies and the men who stand against them. This is the heart of the conservation problem today.

Search on conservation of natural resources, endangered animals, forests, grazing land, national parks, public lands, public recreation, soil, water, wildlife, and Hetch Hetchy to trace the debate on conservation issues.