Massachusetts Historical Society


Seeing the Forest as the Key: Lumbermen, Foresters & Racial Power in the Early Twentieth-Century South & the West


Author: Evan Bonney, Centre d'histoire de Sciences Po
Perri Meldon, Boston University
Comment: Megan Kate Nelson, Historian and Writer

This is a hybrid event. The in-person reception will begin at 4:30 PM.

This panel examines the role of the environment in the United States during the early twentieth century and its relationship to colonialism. As a science largely employed by colonizing European powers at the turn of the twentieth century, forestry, Evan Bonney’s paper suggests, helped the United States claim the Intermountain West as part of its empire. Perri Meldon’s work centers on the Great Dismal Swamp, the wetland once owned by George Washington. As promotional material illustrates, the swamp became less an actual wetland and more an imagined space imbued with revolutionary (and rebel) spirit. Yet the swamp’s ecology repeatedly resisted the visions of those who promoted it. Meldon’s essay documents the efforts of local officials, outdoors enthusiasts, and lumber companies to advertise the swamp and how the wetland evaded their goals.

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Hybrid Event

The in-person reception starts at 4:30 PM and the seminar will begin at 5:00 PM.

Masks are optional for this event.

The virtual seminar begins at 5:00 PM and will be hosted on the video conference platform, Zoom. Registrants will receive a confirmation message with attendance information.

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