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Laurance S. Rockefeller and the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission: Race, Recreation, and the National ParksFebruary 25, 2022
This project focuses on the links between the conservation movement and civil rights through an examination of the reach and impact of the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission (ORRRC) and its chairman, Laurance S. Rockefeller (LSR). The Commission's landmark report in 1962 identified large racial disparities in access to public lands and recreation across the USA, which prompted the National Park Service (NPS) to establish new National Recreation Areas and Historical Parks in urban areas in the 1960s and 1970s. The project examines the history of the ORRRC, contextualizes the Commission's work within the longer history of the civil rights movement's efforts to desegregate state and national parks, and NPS efforts to increase recreational opportunities in urban areas. Based on research in the records of the ORRRC at the Rockefeller Archive Center and in the National Archives, the project also discusses the central role of LSR in the Commission's history, as well as his views on civil rights and public lands.The entire study, commissioned by Marsh Billings Rockefeller National Historical Park, includes five chapters. This report is drawn from chapter 3, which examines the ORRRC's uneven efforts between 1958-62 to identify and recommend remedies for racial disparities in outdoor recreational opportunities in urban areas. The complete chapter examines ORRRC studies of New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, and Los Angeles, as well as Atlanta, the focus of this report.
Embattled River: The Hudson and Modern American EnvironmentalismJune 2, 2020
I spent several days in September 2015 at the Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) working in the Nelson A. Rockefeller Papers, especially the gubernatorial collection, investigating the Hudson River Valley Commission (HRVC), a largely unstudied state agency that the governor created in 1965. Thanks to considerable effort by archivist Monica Blank after my initial interview at RAC, I also worked in the documents Laurance S. Rockefeller compiled as chair of the (temporary) Hudson River Valley Commission, which are housed at the RAC. Given his longstanding interest in the Hudson River Valley, Laurance S. Rockefeller's papers include a large amount of material from the subsequent years of the "permanent" commission's existence. During the same month of my visit to RAC, I also spent considerable time working in the Hudson River Valley Commission Collection at the New York State Archives, Albany. Between these two collections, I was able to develop a thorough understanding of the commission's goals and operations.
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