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Profile of the Day: Rachel Carson

On this day in 1907, American biologist and conservationist Rachel Carson was born. Carson’s groundbreaking work is often credited with advancing the global environmental movement.

Image: Rachel Carson / Smithsonian Institution

Carson was born on May 17, 1907 on a family farm near Springdale, Pennsylvania to Robert Warden Carson, an insurance salesman, and Maria Frazier McLean. Growing up, she developed a deep love of nature and enjoyed writing stories, publishing her first story at the age of 10 in a children’s magazine. In college, Carson originally studied English but switched her major to biology. Later, she found a way to bring the two fields together and become an important figure of the environmental movement.

In 1936, Carson was hired by the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, where she remained until 1952. During this time, she published her first book, Under the Sea-Wind, in 1941. Ten years later, she published The Sea Around Us, which became an instant best-seller. Her writing was often praised for its scientific accuracy and thoroughness with lyrical prose.

Carson’s most notable work came in 1962 when she published Silent Spring, which documented the dangerous effects of synthetic pesticides in the environment. Widely influential, the book helped bring significant changes to the United States’s national pesticide policy and the banning of DDT for agricultural use throughout the country.

Carson died on April 14, 1964 at the age of 56 after a battle with breast cancer. In 1980, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

View Rachel Carson’s Geni Profile

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