Rachel Carson - Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World - Ann Shen (2016)

Rachel Carson

Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was an American marine biologist, conservationist, and writer best known for her seminally influential book, Silent Spring. Raised in rural Pennsylvania, Carson became a published writer at the age of eleven, with her work appearing in the children’s magazine St. Nicholas (she was in good company; future famous writers printed there included F. Scott Fitzgerald, E. E. Cummings, and E. B. White). She was the second woman to be hired into the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. Because she wasn’t paid enough for this job, she pursued additional freelance work that led to the publication of her first two books: Under the Sea Wind and The Sea Around Us. These books garnered her multiple accolades and scientific credibility, which gave her the confidence to research the damaging effects of synthetic pesticides in widespread use after their creation by the military during World War II. The results of her research were detailed in Silent Spring.

Despite family tragedies and personal health complications, Carson publishedSilent Spring in 1962 to much fanfare. Her critics, largely chemical manufacturing companies, decried her research by putting their own scientists on TV and attacking her personally, calling her a spinster and a communist. Nothing was more threatening than an educated professional woman in this post-World War II society, which had demanded that all Rosie the Riveters return to the kitchen. Despite the harsh critical campaign against her, Carson was supported by the U.S. government and the larger scientific community. The Environmental Protection Agency was formed in 1970 as a direct result of the calls in Silent Spring, and in 2012 the book was designated a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society.

Silent Spring, outspoken conservationist