Sunday, November 9, 2008

Franconia Notch and the Women Who Saved It.


A case study of early-twentieth-century grassroots preservation and the role of women in the American conservation movement

The "heart of New Hampshire," the 6,000-acre Franconia Notch nestled deep in the majestic White Mountains, was a well-loved summer resort and tourist destination in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. When in 1923 a devastating fire destroyed a famous grand hotel-the Profile House-and its owners decided against rebuilding, lumber companies eagerly moved in to evaluate the timber in the region. A vigorous campaign to save the pristine Franconia Notch wilderness rapidly galvanized around the efforts of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, the Granite State's premier force dedicated to conservation. Support poured in from local, state, regional, and national sources as the Franconia Notch campaign gathered steam in a bid to acquire and preserve the Notch. The New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs was a particularly spirited participant-and a key to the campaign's success. In 1928 the effort culminated in the creation of Franconia Notch Forest Reservation and War Memorial, today's magnificent Franconia Notch State Park. Franconia Notch and the Women Who Saved It is the story of this remarkable grassroots movement. Author Kimberly A. Jarvis applies meticulous scholarly skills to new archival material from the New Hampshire Federation of Women's Clubs and weaves her findings into the dynamic conversations now being carried on among environmental historians and scholars of New England regional culture. Her unique focus on the impulses that inspired early-twentieth-century women's clubs to become involved with this particular regional conservation campaign-and with conservation efforts and nature study generally-is a significant contribution to White Mountain literature and women's studies. Scholars, students, and readers who love nature and history will find much to admire and absorb in Franconia Notch and the Women Who Saved It.

"Franconia Notch and the Women Who Saved It is a masterful study of the origins of American landscape sensibilities and the changing meanings of the White Mountains. Using the campaign to save Franconia Notch as a focal point, Jarvis systematically traces the formation of a conservation ethic in this eastern context and identifies a new cast of characters in the conservation story."-Richard Judd, Professor of History, University of Maine

A wild, rugged, forested Franconia Notch is an important symbol for New Hampshire, but it was almost stripped of much of its natural beauty early in the Twentieth Century. In this engaging and thoroughly researched book, Kim Jarvis tells us how and why people from all walks of life worked together to preserve one of the most scenic spots in the eastern United States."-Kurk Dorsey, Associate Professor of History, University of New Hampshire

"Indispensable reading for anyone interested in the rise of New England conservation, or more broadly, the national attempt to save America's threatened wilderness landscapes in the early twentieth century."-Michael Lewis, Salisbury University

University Press of New England
Paper $25.95
232 Pages 6”x9”
KIMBERLY A. JARVIS is Assistant Professor of History at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska. She specializes in the study of women and the conservation movement in the United States and is the author of journal articles and conference papers

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