GSA Logo Franklin D. Roosevelt and Conservation
Volume One
VOLUME ONE: 1911-1937


THIS PUBLICATION represents a selection from the papers of Franklin D. Roosevelt in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library that have to do with the conservation of what are commonly called "the natural and renewable resources": soil and water, forests and other soil cover, wildlife, and scenic and wilderness areas. Documents concerning "nonrenewable natural resources," such as coal, oil and minerals, have been excluded. Papers concerning water power have also been excluded, although that subject is mentioned in papers dealing with water resources in general, and with Roosevelt's ideas on the regional approach to resource conservation.

This limitation of the subject was necessary because of the great volume of Roosevelt papers on the subject of conservation in general. It does, however, coincide with Roosevelt's main emphasis. He was concerned with the conservation of all the natural resources of the nation but he was most interested in, and most eloquent about, the devastation of our forests, the destruction of our soil, and the needless spoliation of our great scenic and wilderness areas.

Within the limits described, this publication includes all of what appear to be the basic and significant materials except certain kinds of formal documents such as laws and executive orders. These are readily available in print elsewhere. The documents here printed, however, constitute about a third of the total number of documents that have been identified among the Roosevelt papers as bearing on the subject of the conservation of natural, renewable, resources. A calendar listing all such documents has been prepared, and both the calendar and the documents not reproduced here may be examined at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Microfilm copies of them may be obtained.

No examination was made of the scores of manuscript collections and archives in other depositories that might contain relevant documents not duplicated in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. When an important document not in the Library was known to exist elsewhere, however, an effort was made to obtain a copy for publication. The source of such a document is indicated.

The papers of a President do not, of course, contain all the important documents on every issue with which his administration dealt. They concern only those matters with which he chose to deal or into which he was drawn at the request of an executive agency, a member of Congress, a state or local government official, or a private citizen. Other matters were dealt with by executive agencies without consultation with him and are not reflected in his papers.

Since many of the documents in this publication concern more than one subject, a topical arrangement was not feasible. The papers have therefore been arranged in chronological order and a detailed subject index furnishes a guide to specific topics. This arrangement has the virtue of simplicity and the further advantage of reflecting the order in which the papers came to the attention of the President or his staff.

Something should be said of the technical problems encountered in preparing these papers for publication. Ideally the historical text in print should be identical in content with the original text and in the case of manuscripts the chief questions are those of authenticity and legibility. The advent of the typed letter has lessened these problems but there remains the question of what to do with the printed letterhead. This may be a simple statement of the writer's name and address or it may include a lengthy and highly detailed description of his business or official position.

To have reproduced these letterheads verbatim would have been wasteful of space and of dubious utility. In this book, therefore, the printed letterheads have been omitted, and the writer's name, address and title have been given in a uniform style. Other information in the letterhead that might conceivably be of use to the reader is given in a footnote. The salutation, close and signature have also been rendered in uniform style except in the case of autograph letters; these have been reproduced exactly as they are. Obvious errors of punctuation and spelling that may definitely be attributed to the typist have been corrected without comment. Errors of the sort that reflect the writer's usage have, of course, been retained. Annotations appearing on the document have been reproduced (with an indication, when possible, of authorship) but filing room marginalia, such as file numbers and cross-references, have been omitted.

Where a letter is known to have been drafted for Roosevelt's signature, either the name of the drafter or that of the department in which it originated is, if possible, indicated.

Other than letters, the only kinds of documents offering any particular editorial problems were Roosevelt's speeches and his messages to Congress. These problems arise from the fact that the speeches and messages may exist in a variety of forms: drafts (in different stages of completion), the final copy or "reading copy," the press release of the final copy, the stenographic transcripts, and (in the case of speeches only) a sound recording of the radio broadcast.

The broadcast recording has been used as the text when available because it is the most accurate text: it contains the last-minute changes Roosevelt made when he delivered the speech, changes not always caught by the White House stenographer. In the absence of a recording of the speech, the stenographic transcript was used, and where this was lacking, the reading copy. Where the reading copy was not available, the press release was used.

Presidential messages to Congress (none of which here published was read in person to Congress except item 204) have been reproduced in the official White House press release version. In a few cases, to show Roosevelt's method in drafting and editing, important changes made by him in final drafts have been shown by cancelled type and italics.

Scores of persons and institutions have been of assistance in the preparation of these volumes. Their kindness and helpfulness are deeply appreciated.

Several other members of the staff of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library have participated in this project. Carl L. Spicer assisted in the original search for documents. Mrs. Aimee C. Buchanan helped with the indexing and with the technical preparation of the copy. Mrs. Clarice D. Morris did the clerical and stenographic work and performed numerous other duties. Finally, the patient scrutiny and advice given the project by Herman Kahn, Director of the Library, were indispensable to its completion. —EDGAR B. NIXON

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Last Updated: 20-Jan-2009