Rachel Carson Payingher way to college, Rachel Carson not only graduated with a masters in zoologyand became the second woman hired by the US Bureau of Fisheries, but she also wrotemany books which greatly impacted the United States. Born into an impoverishedfamily, Rachel Carson overcame many obstacles while in college, and became oneof the 100 most influential people of the 1900s. RachelCarson, born on May 27, 1907, found her love for nature and animals at an earlyage while exploring her family’s 64-acre farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania(Michal; Souder). She always loved exploring the woods by her house with herdog, Candy, and noticed all the bugs and different types of trees with her eyefor detail (Hustard) Because Rachel’s dad, Robert Carson, was an insurancesalesman, he often left home to travel leaving Maria, Rachel’s mom, alone withher four kids (Souder).
Her family had a very low income causing them to haveno electricity or plumbing (Souder). While she was a child, she loved readingand writing and became a published author by ten years old (Michal). Throughouthigh school, Carson had to work at a laboratory in Massachusetts and at WoodsHole Oceanographic Institution to help fund college (Hustard, Powel). In1925, she began attending the Pennsylvania College for Woman studying Englishbut later changed to study biology (Michal, Powel). Graduating in 1929 withhigh honors, she received her bachelor’s degree in biology (Powel, Gilbert,Michal). Longing to learn more, Rachel began studying at the oceanographicinstitute of John Hopkins University, where she received her master’s inzoology in 1932 (Michal). Although Rachel wanted to pursue a doctorate degree,she had to take care of her mother and two orphaned nieces and continued tostruggle financially (Michal, Gilbert). Aftersearching for a long time, she finally found a job teaching zoology at theUniversity of Maryland (Powel).
Leaving her teaching career, she scored higherthan all other applicants and became the second woman hired by the US Bureau ofFisheries in 1936 (Michal). Carson began as a marine biologist until 1937 whenshe became a junior aquatic biologist (Michal, Hustard). After the promotion toeditor-in-chief, Carson left this organization in 1952 to pursue her writingcareer (Powel). Although Carson faced much rejection, she published her firstbook, Under the Sea Wind, in 1941which explained the animal life on the East Coast (Powel). Soon after thepublication, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor taking away from the focus on her bookso she only received some admiration for presenting scientific facts in anunderstandable way (Hustard). Because Carson longed for people to understandthe wonders of the ocean, she wrote and published a second book, The Sea Around Us, in 1951 whicheventually was turned into a movie as well (Powel). This book sparked wonder inthe mind of all who read it, causing it to become the best-seller for 86 weeksand allowed her to quit her job (Gilbert, Hustard).
A letter from one ofCarson’s friends in 1958 opened Carson’s eyes to the effects of sprayingpesticides on plants (Powel). Her friend studied the forest and noticed many ofthe wildlife and birds were dying, and after many tests, it became evident thatthe cause was the pesticides (Powel). Carson decided she needed to do somethingabout the problem, so she began to write another book and before the book waseven published, 4,000 copies had already been sold (Hustard). In 1958, Carsonspoke to editors about publishing a story in the newspaper before writing abook, but they pushed back the deadline in order for Carson to better prepare (Powel).On December 1, 1958, Carson’s mom died a sudden death, so the deadline changedagain (Powel).
Determined, Carson continued researching, but became ill in theearly 1960’s from pneumonia, and had to have surgery to remove two tumors(Powel). In 1961, Carson was diagnosed with cancer and began radiation whichcaused her body to become weak, but afraid they would cancel her book, kept herwell-being a secret (Powel). After four years of strenuous research andwriting, she finally published, SilentSpring, which explained the effect of poison and how to more cautiously usethem (Powel).
John F. Kennedy, a fan of Carson’s writing, read all of her booksand created an assembly of numerous scientists to further study Carson’s theory(Powel). Although thousands of people greatly enjoyed her writings, manychemical companies spent thousands of dollars trying to discredit her work, butfailed (Powel, Michal).
On June 4, 1963, Carson spoke in the courts to testifyher reason for writing the books and replied to the attacks by saying that shebegan this campaign with only the public and environment in mind, not aspecific company (Powel). Through thetrials, Carson remained strong, and won a national book award, national sciencewriting award, and a Guggeheim grant (Michal). Overcome by cancer, Carson diedon April 14, 1964 and did not get the privilege to see her life’s goalaccomplished- the banning of strong pesticides (Gilbert, Hustard). Awarded thePresidential medal of honor after she died, Carson is fondly thought of as anearly environmental activist who changed the United States and many othercountries for the good of the people (Michal, Biography.com editors). Carsonproduced the largest influence to the country and is now known as one of themost significant women of the 1900s (Hustard).
Because Carson’s life impactedthe country is such a strong way, her funeral was held at the NationalCathedral in Washington D.C. (Hustard).