Chatham University, Rachel Carson in the Pennsylvania College for Women Yearbook, The Pennsylvanian, 1928. Image and data courtesy the Collection on Rachel Carson, Chatham University Archives & Special Collections.

On this day in 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published, bringing widespread attention to environmental issues caused by the use of synthetic pesticides in the United States. The book sparked controversy, particularly from chemical companies that dismissed Silent Spring’s assertions about the connection between pesticides and ecological health. However, Carson’s claims were borne out and the book is widely credited with sparking the modern environmental movement that eventually spawned the Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson began her career as a marine biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries and wrote a best-selling trilogy that explored all aspects of ocean life. She attended the Pennsylvania College for Women, known today as Chatham University, where she studied English and Biology. She graduated magna cum laude in 1929, and the University possesses a wealth of primary source material related to her time at the university and afterwards. The early materials document the phase of Carson’s education when she first began to blend her interests in writing and the environmental sciences while the later material documents her lifelong devotion to the University and her career as a respected author and scientist.

The Chatham University Collection on Rachel Carson, which is publicly available on Artstor, includes typewritten correspondence about Silent Spring, portraits of Carson throughout her education and career, and articles authored by Carson as an undergraduate such as “Why I am a Pessimist.

The collection offers a fascinating glimpse into Carson and her work, explore it in her honor today!

View the collection.