Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Uppity Women #24

A Tale of Two Marjories


Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings                           Marjory Stoneman Douglas
(image credits: Wikimedia Commons)

In the late 1930's Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings wrote The Yearling, a book about a boy and his dysfunctional family scarred by loss. The book, set in swampy Central Florida, was one of the first books to introduce the American readership to the dense backwater swamps and hard life of Florida residents. She continued with her success in attuning readers to the life and community in the Florida hammocks with Cross Creek. American readers became intrigued by the harsh but lush and beautiful Florida environment. Kinnan Rawlings was a great supporter of rural Florida and of its small hamlets like her own Cross Creek (in Hawthorne). She wrote:
"Now, having left cities behind me, turned
Away forever from the strange, gregarious
Huddling of men by stones, I find those various
Great towns I knew fused into one, burned
Together in the fire of my despising..."

Five years after the publication of Cross Creek, Marjory Stoneman Douglas presaged the work of a forthcoming Uppity Woman entrant, Rachel Carson, with The Everglades: River of Grass, published in 1947. Stoneman Douglas was a galvanizing force in the battle to conserve and preserve the fragile environment of the Everglades. She first became involved in the Everglades conservation movement in the 1920's. She explained her involvement in environmental conservation saying, "It is a woman's business to be interested in the environment. It's an extended form of housekeeping." She opposed sugar plantations and development in the Everglades and fought hard against their development.

A longtime reporter for the Miami Herald, she was also a suffragist, and an activist for racial equality and better civic services to blacks in the Miami area. Along with Elizabeth Virrick, she vocally advocated for running water and county sewage services for the racially segregated areas in the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami and won. She tirelessly wrote columns in the Miami Herald championing this  and many other worthy causes.

Stoneman Douglas continued to work on Everglades conservation issues until shortly before her death at the age of 108 years.

Florida owes her a great, great debt for her work. She preserved a region unlike any other in the world with her efforts.

"There are no other Everglades in the world..."

The Southern Tip of Florida and the Everglades

Image Credit: NASA

Attribution unknown

Image credit: Mind's Eye

Image credit: Wayne
© Bright Nepenthe, 2010


  1. Many years ago I had the honor and privilege of working with Marjorie Stoneman Douglas on an Everglades project. She and Rachel Carson shaped my life-influencing me into a career as a marine biologist and a estuarine geochemist.

    There are few forces to equal that of lifelong dedication. Thank you for recognizing her...

  2. How fortunate you were Jen!

    I have to say that when I was growing up, I never appreciated just how unique the Everglades are. But as I traveled more and more, I began to appreciate them.