- Mira Lloyd Dock and the Progressive Era Conservation Movement by Susan Rimby (review)
- Ohio Valley History
- The Filson Historical Society and Cincinnati Museum Center
- Volume 13, Number 2, Summer 2013
- pp. 89-91
- View Citation
- Additional Information
BOOK REVIEWS SUMMER 2013 89 broad generalizations about the organization’s overall philosophy. Using the Lincoln Inquiry as a methodological model also seems problematic because the organization frequently failed to meet its goals. In Erekson’s portrait, little of the research presented by society members influenced anyone outside their geographic and professional orbit, save for a few “discrete biographical findings… scooped up by Lincoln biographers then and later” (87). Public and professional enthusiasm for the society’s other efforts also appears lukewarm . Few people outside of southern Indiana attended the photography exhibit and efforts to distribute a filmed version of the pageant nationally failed. Only the Lincoln Pioneer Village remains a prominent Lincoln historical site, best representing the organization’s immersive goals, but Erekson downplays this victory in favor of other less successful endeavors. The southwestern society’s limited impact, despite members’ efforts to draw national attention , further calls into question Erekson and Inglehart’s claims that the Lincoln Inquiry amounted to more than a local history project. Though the organization impressively interacted with prominent historians and attracted members from outside southern Indiana, its findings had little relevance beyond the region and it failed to reach a broad audience. Furthermore, Inglehart’s impression that the organization fell victim to a “conspiracy” of Lincoln scholars demonstrated a paranoia and naiveté that raises questions about whether he had as strong a grounding in the historical profession as Erekson suggests . Inglehart’s subsequent behavior—flooding an editor’s mailbox with research on southern Indiana to ensure its positive portrayal in Beveridge’s Lincoln biography—similarly suggests desperation and state boosterism. Still, Erekson’s efforts, like those of the Lincoln Inquiry, should not be dismissed. Erekson describes his study as “an invitation to explore the Lincoln Inquiry’s work and worldview and to reflect on your own” (8) and he succeeds in forcing readers—particularly historians—to consider current and past historical practice. However, they may also suspect that the society and its members deserve more scrutiny than they receive here. Christian McWhirter The Papers of Abraham Lincoln Mira Lloyd Dock and the Progressive Era Conservation Movement Susan Rimby In 1899, students at the Harrisburg female seminary might enroll in a course that mixed botany with scientific forestry and civic improvement. The instructor described the class as investigating such varied topics as “forest cover, soil preservation and the water supply, forest fires and soil destruction, new growth, wayside shrubs, foreign intruders, school yards, village improvement, and the new era, that is, one in which people conserve natural resources” (32). The teacher of the course, a middle-aged graduate of the University of Michigan named Mira Lloyd Dock, became a leading figure of that “new era.” Her life, superbly historicized and explicated in Susan Rimby’s biography, tells readers much about the role of women in the conservation movement, the relationship between urban and rural conservation, and BOOK REVIEWS 90 OHIO VALLEY HISTORY connections between conservation and other progressive social movements. Dock’s work reached many more people than her students or those who attended her lantern slide-enhanced lectures. Shortly after teaching her courses in Harrisburg, Dock undertook a study tour of forestry practices and civic improvement in Europe and quickly published A Summer’s Work Abroad, a pamphlet that encouraged nature study, urban gardening and landscaping, and access to public facilities by rich and poor alike. She worked closely with J. Horace McFarland and the city beautiful movement in Harrisburg, and played a key role in forming a progressive alliance between professional men and Civic Club women. She enlarged this coalition by reaching out to immigrant and working class communities , actively seeking their input into civic matters. Dock’s work in Harrisburg impressed many, and when an opening on the Pennsylvania State Forest Commission arose she became the first woman to sit on a public forestry commission . At the time of her appointment in 1901, Pennsylvania’s forests had fallen into terrible shape. Overcut and overhunted, poor forest quality not only harmed the forest industry, but also water quality and agricultural productivity. Nor did many people have the expertise to manage forest landscapes more productively. This pressing need for trained forest workers compelled...