Historical/Modern Women Project

Rachel Carson

Jennifer Luu

Mr. Ryan

US History period 7

25 March 2015



Rachel Carson is a marine biologist who is well-known for her literary works that had a major impact on people's view on environmental life. She was born on May 27, 1907 in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Rachel Carson is the youngest of three of Maria Carson and Robert Carson. Despite of her financial issues, Carson still attended and later graduated from Pennsylvania College for Women, now known as Chatham College, with a zoology degree. Carson later went to John Hopkins University to obtain her graduate degree. While on the journey to getting her degree, Rachel worked as a laboratory assistant to geneticist Raymond Pearl at University of Maine. After Carson received her M.A. in marine zoology at Hopkins, Rachel continued at the University of Maine.


Carson was rumored to be a recluse and reserved individual. Although she received many praises after the release of her book, The Sea Around Us, Rachel was not fond of the attention. She did answer many of her many of the letters that she had received. Rachel lived a placid life with her mother and grandnephew that she adopted. Even though she was known to live a secluded life, Carson contacted a close knit of her friends, was active in the Audubon Society, and wrote to a number of professional scientists and writers.

In 1936, Rachel Carson became an aquatic biologist with the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries. At her job, she writes scripts for radio broadcasts about marine life. When one of her scripts was published in the Atlantic Monthly, Rachel Carson turned it into a book titled Under the Sea-Wind. Although the book received positive reviews, the sales were low. Carson decided to pursue her writing career and continued to write more informative nonfiction books with the support of Eugene F. Saxton Memorial Fellowship. This allowed her to take a leave and to start her next book, The Sea Around Us. Carson traced a connection between marine and human life with ecology in The Sea Around Us. Once her book had excerpts in the New Yorker and other magazines, the book became a best-seller instantly.


Every success story most likely has a failure story to go along with it. Carson was no exception. One of Rachel's correspondents, Olga Huckins, brought upon the idea that pesticide use was causing environmental problems to Carson. In 1958, Carson's mother passed away. During the death of her mother, Rachel Carson developed poor health and had a malignant tumor removed. After four years of researching, Carson discovered that reckless spraying caused damage to the environment. She wrote about this proposal in her book Silent Spring. Because she found this out, many representatives from the agricultural chemistry industry and Carson was seen as someone who opposes all pesticides although she only opposed of mechanics that corrupted the natural balance of organisms and environment. This brought upon a wide debate. In all of her books, Carson showed relatively new science of ecology to the public, especially in Silent Spring. Rachel Carson was the first woman to receive the Audubon medal. Only two years after the release of Silent Spring, Carson died of cancer in 1964.