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A Guide to the Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005

Collection Number SC 0143

Processed by: Chris Bolgiano

Revised by:  Alicia Henneberry, September 2013; Tiffany Cole, February 2018

 

 

Descriptive Summary

 

Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University

Title: Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005

Collection No.: SC 0143

Creator: Ernest M. Dickerman

Extent: 4 boxes, 1 rolled storage container, 1 flat file; 5.07 cubic feet

Language: English

Abstract: The Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005, contains a wide variety of materials that document Dickerman's efforts to obtain Congressional designations of wilderness for various tracts of public land, primarily in Virginia. The collection also contains papers of the Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC), a grass roots conservation group that Dickerman led.  

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Collection is open for research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions: The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box #, foder #], Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005, SC 0143, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

Acquisition Information: Donated by Ernest M. Dickerman in November 1994. After Dickerman’s death in 1998, several additions of papers were donated by his nephew and executor, Robert Dickerman.

Processing Information: In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in the spring of 2017. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 3085. The collection was minimally reprocessed in early 2018, at which time the finding aid to the Wilderness Society Papers at the Denver Public Library was removed and added to the collection control file.

 

Bio/Historical Note: Ernest M. Dickerman was born December 22, 1910 in Austin, Illinois, and moved to the Adirondacks in New York at three years old. When he was about six years old, the family moved to Richmond, Virginia where his mother died of tuberculosis when Dickerman was nine. Sometime later, the family moved to Roanoke. Dickerman attended Gettysburg Academy and Oberlin College (class of 1931). In 1934 he began working for the newly created Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Immediately, he fell in love with the Great Smoky Mountains, met conservationist Harvey Broome, and became deeply involved in the battles to preserve the Great Smoky Mountains National Park from development. He was a 1936 charter member of The Wilderness Society and knew many of the greatest conservationists of the day, including Bob Marshall, Sigurd Olson, Olaus Murie, and Howard Zahniser.  

After a few years at TVA, Dickerman took a job with a plastics molding firm (apparently called the Patent Button Co. of Tennessee), also in Knoxville. He retired from a position as production manager in 1966, and in 1969 moved to the headquarters office of The Wilderness Society in Washington, D.C. as a staff organizer. He traveled frequently to teach citizens how to identify, map, and build support for wilderness areas throughout the East and Midwest. He also lobbied Congress on numerous wilderness bills, wrestled with federal land managing agencies (Forest Service, National Park Service, Fish & Wildlife Service), and was highly instrumental in passage of the 1975 Eastern Wilderness Bill. During the 1960s Dickerman also served as manager for the Robert Marshall Wilderness Fund, as evidenced by a notebook of typed minutes from the first thirteen years of the Fund (established by the will of Robert Marshall), 1940-1953, in which are inserted several 1968 letters to and from Dickerman.  

When he retired from The Wilderness Society in 1976 and moved to his nephew's newly acquired mountain farm near Buffalo Gap in Swoope, Augusta County, Virginia, he was almost immediately elected president of the Virginia Wilderness Committee. At that time he inherited the organization's files prior to 1976. The Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC) had been founded in Williamsburg at William & Mary College by a small group of private citizens in 1969 to promote the federal designation of wilderness in Virginia according to the 1964 Wilderness Act. The VWC also became involved in various other issues relevant to preservation of the natural landscape. VWC volunteers donate issues of the newsletter and occasional other VWC documents to keep these current in Dickerman's papers. 

Although he held an official position in the VWC only until 1979, Dickerman was the guiding spirit in the movement for Virginia wilderness both before and long after those dates. He was widely renowned for his combination of optimism and canny strategizing, his politeness in dealing with adversaries, and his sense of humor. He died on July 31, 1998. In 1999, friends and colleagues produced a book of tributes titled Ernie Dickerman, 1910-1998: A Tribute.

Scope and Content: The Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005, contains a wide variety of materials that document Dickerman's efforts to obtain Congressional designations of wilderness for various tracts of public land, primarily in Virginia. The collection also contains papers of the Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC), a grass roots conservation group that Dickerman led. These papers include correspondence, maps, field notes, reports, news clippings, wilderness proposals, minutes, financial statements, newsletters and other materials, 1940 - current, with most materials dating 1962-1999. The collection documents Dickerman’s activities as a leader of the movement to designate wilderness areas on public lands in the eastern United States under the Wilderness Act of 1964 and the Eastern Wilderness Act of 1975. Operating papers of the Virginia Wilderness Committee, a grass roots conservation group of which Dickerman served as president for several years, are also included.  

Series 1: Places and Policies, 1962-2001, contains  maps, reports, conference agendas, environmental assessments, congressional testimony, and some correspondence dealing with specific places, topical issues, and policies of public land agencies. The Laurel Fork, Virginia folders hold the largest body of materials; Laurel Fork was Dickerman's favorite place in Virginia, and he worked intensively (and successfully) against a proposed gas line through it.

Series 2: Correspopndence and Personal Files, 1940-1999, includes carbon copies of Dickerman's outgoing letters, original incoming letters, notebooks, texts for speeches, data sheets he composed about various issues, and other items. One folder contains personal Christmas messages, biographical articles, obituaries, and remembrances.   

Series 3: Virginia Wilderness Committee, 1969-2005, includes operational documents including minutes, financial reports, newsletters, Virginia Wilderness coalition notes, the 1984 Virginia Wilderness Bill, and wilderness proposals.
 

Series 4: Maps, 1936-1991, contains 25 maps described at an item level in the container list.

Arrangement:

This collection is arranged in five series:

Series 1: Places and Policies, 1962-2001
Series 2: Correspondence and Personal Files, 1940-1999
Series 3: Virginia Wildreness Committee (VWC), 1969-2005
Series 4: Maps, 1936-1991

Bibliography: "Grandad of the Eastern Wilderness," Sierra Magazine, Nov/Dec, 1986.

Bolgiano, Chris. The Appalachian Forest, A Search for Roots and Renewal. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1998.

Murray, Elizabeth, ed. Ernie Dickerman, 1910-1998: A Tribute. The Wilderness Society, 1999.

Related Material: Wilderness Society Records, CoONS130, Conservation Collection, The Denver Pubilc Library.

Ernie Dickerman, interviewed by Dominic Pisciotta, 1994, Sd-Arch 6-3, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

Separated Material: A duplicate copy of Elizabeth Murray's, ed. Ernie Dickerman, 1910-1998: A Tribute (The Wilderness Society, 1999) was removed from the collection and added to the Special Collections rare book holdings. A copy is also retained in the collection.

Contents:

Series 1: Places and Policies, 1962-2001 Box:Folder
Alaska-Pipeline, etc., 1971-1973 1:1
Assateague, 1970-1974 1:2
Assorted State Issues, 1969-1974 1:3
Back Creek-Pumped Storage Project, 1973-1974 1:4
Back Bay-Vehicular Access Flight, 1970-1981 1:5
Back Bay-Wilderness Proposals, 1974-1978 1:6
Big Levels/St. Mary’s, 1972-1979 1:7
Bull Run Mountain, 1973 1:8
Central Atlantic Environment Center, 1972 1:9
Conservation Council of Virginia, 1971-1975 1:10
Crawford Mountain, 1973-1974 1:11
Cumberland Gap, 1967-1973 1:12
Dismal Swamp, 1972-1975 1:13
Eastern Wilderness Bill-House, 1973-1974 1:14
Eastern Wilderness Bill-Senate, 1973-1974 1:15
Eastern Wilderness Bill-Senate Hearings, 1973 1:16
Eastern Wilderness Bill-Wilderness Areas, 1975 1:16A
Eastern Wilderness Bill-Citizens For Eastern Wilderness Memoranda, 1973-1975 1:16B
Gathright, 1972-1973 1:17
Hipes Dam, 1967-1972 1:18
James River Face, Cave Mtn. Lake, 1971-1974 1:19
Laurel Fork, 1962-1974 1:20
Laurel Fork-Gas Line Proposal, 1975-1995 1:21
Laurel Fork-Gas Line Proposal, 1995-1996 1:22
Laurel Fork-Environmental Assessment, Decision Notice and Responses, 1995-1997 1:23
Little River, 1973-1974 2:1
Little Stoney, 1973 2:2
Mason Neck, 1973 2:3
Massanutten, 1974 2:4
Mt. Pleasant, 1985-1987 2:5
Mt. Rogers, 1971-1977 2:6
Mountain Lake, Peters Mountain, Mill Creek, 1974, 1994 2:7
National Forests, 1969-1989 2:8
National Forests-Unit Planning, 1972-1974 2:9
Ramsey’s Draft, 1968-1979 2:10
Rich Hole, 1973-1977 2:11
Roadless Areas, 1991 2:12
Roadless Areas, 1992-1994 2:13
Salem Church Dam, 1971-1973 2:14
Shenandoah National Park Wilderness, 1967-1973 2:15
Shenandoah Wilderness, 1987-2001 2:16
Sierra Club - Virginia Groups, 1973-1974 2:17
Virginia Environmental Cooridination Legislation, 1973 2:18
Virginia State Parks, 1971-1973 2:19
Wetlands, 1970-1972 2:20
Wild Areas Bill, 1972 2:21
Series 2: Correspondence and Personal Files, 1940-1999  
Correspondence, 1962-1976 2:22
Correspondence, January-June 1977 2:23
Correspondence, July-December 1977 2:24
Correspondence, January-June 1978 2:25
Correspondence, July-December 1978 2:26
Correspondence, January-April 1979 2:27
Correspondence, May-August 1979 2:28
Correspondence, September-December 1979 2:29
Correspondence, 1980 2:30
Correspondence, 1981 3:1
Correspondence, 1982 3:2
Correspondence, 1983 3:3
Correspondence, 1984 3:4
Correspondence, 1985-1987 3:5
Correspondence, 1988-1990 3:6
Correspondence, 1991 3:7
Correspondence, 1992-1995 3:8
Correspondence, 1996-1998 3:9
Master List of Basic Statements on Wilderness, 1983-1997 3:10
Personal: obituaries, biography, Christmas cards, and photographs, 1967-1999 3:11
Talks by Ernest M. Dickerman, 1979-1996 3:12
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1965-1967 3:13
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning, 1967-1971 3:14
Wilderness Workshops, 1967-1968 3:15
Dickerman’s notebooks, 1966-1976 3:15A
Robert Marshall Wilderness Fund Minutes Book, 1940-1969 3:15B
Series 3: Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC), 1969-2005  
Virginia Wilderness Bill Hearings, 1984 3:16
Virginia Wilderness Coalition, 1979-1987 3:17
VWC Correspondence, 1970-1974 3:18
VWC Finances, 1969-2001 3:19
VWC Hot Line, 1971-1972 3:20
VWC Minutes and Membership, 1971-1979 3:21
VWC Minutes and Membership, 1980-1997 3:22
VWC Newsletters, 1970-2005 4:1
Wilderness Proposals, 1970s (folder 1 of 2) 4:2
Wilderness Proposals, 1970s (folder 2 of 2) 4:3
Wilderness Proposals, 1980s 4:4
Wilderness Proposals, 1990s (folder 1 of 2) 4:5
Wilderness Proposals, 1990s (folder 2 of 2) 4:6
Series 4: Maps, 1936-1991  
Map 1: Thornwood Gas, Inc.; Pipeline Gathering Route Location Map; Pocahontas, Pendleton and Randolph Counties, West Virginia; Scale 1”=2000’, undated Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 2: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service; George Washington National Forest; Virginia and West Virginia, 1936 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 3: United States, Department of the Interior, Geological Survey; Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Vici5, nity; Tennessee and North Carolina; 1949; Scale 1:125000.  With lines probably indicating proposed wilderness, undated Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 4: Proposed Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area; Hightower Bald G.A.-N.C. and Dillard G.A.-N.C., 1946 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 5: United States, Department of the Interior, Geological Survey; Tennessee Valley Authority, Maps and Surveys Branch; Shooting Creek Quadrangle 159-SW, Rainbow Springs Quadrangle 159-SE, Prentiss Quadrangle 167-SW, North Carolina, 7.5 Minute Series (Topographic), undated Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 6: James River Face Wilderness and Vicinity, March 1976 Storage 1
Map 7: United States, Department of the Interior, Geological Survey; Thornwood Quadrangle, Snow Mountain Quadrangle, WVA-VA, 1969 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 8: United States, Department of the Interior, Geological Survey; Commonwealth of Virginia; Snowden Quadrangle, 1966 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 9a-9b: Proposed Whitetop Mountain Wilderness Area and Addition to the Lewis Fork Wilderness Area; Scale 1” = 2000’.  9b.) Overlay with proposed wilderness boundaries, undated Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 10: Beartown, Roadless and Undeveloped Area, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, Hutchinson Rock and Tazwell South Quads, Scale 1:24000. With attached information, 1977 Storage 1
Map 11: Mountain Lake Wilderness Study Area, Virginia, Jefferson N.F., Scale 1:24000, 1965 Storage 1
Map 12: Little Wilson and Thunder Ridge  Roadless and Undeveloped Areas, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, Trout Dale Quad, Scale 1:24000. With attached information, 1977 Storage 1
Map 13: Devils Fork and Roaring Branch Roadless and Undeveloped Areas, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, East Stone Gap Quad, Scale 1:24000; Roaring Branch, Roadless and Undeveloped Area, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, Appalachia & Big Stone Gap Quads, Scale 1:24000. With attached information, 1977 Storage 1
Map 14: Little Dry Run and Lewis Fork Roadless and Undeveloped Areas, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, Speedwell, VA Quad, Scale 1:24000; Lewis Fork, Roadless and Undeveloped Area, Jefferson N.F. VA., 9/15/77, Whitetop Mtn. Quad, Scale 1:24000.  With attached information, 1977 Storage 1
Map 15: Proposed Chattachoochee Wilderness Area, United States, Department of the Interior, Geological Survey; Jacks Gap Quadrangle, Tray Mountain Quadrangle, Georgia, 1950, 1957 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 16: United States Geological Survey; Shenandoah National Park (Central Section), 1969 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 17: United States Geological Survey; Shenandoah National Park (Southern Section), 1969 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 18: United States Geological Survey; Shenandoah National Park (Northern Section), 1969 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 19: Three Ridges Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Big Levels, Sherando, Massies Mill, Horseshoe Mountain, Citizen Proposal compiled by James Madison University Geography Department, December 1990 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 20: Mount Pleasant Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Forks of Buffalo, Montebello, Citizen Proposal compiled by James Madison University Geography Department, February 1991 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 21: Kelley Mountain-Big Levels Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Big Levels, Sherando, Citizen Proposal compiled by James Madison University Geography Department, February 1991 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 22: Skidmore Fork Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Brandywine, February 1991 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 23: The Priest Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Massies Mill, May 1991 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 24: Ramsey's Draft Addition Proposed Wilderness Area, United States Geological Survey Quadrangles: Palo Alto, West Augusta, McDowell, December 1990 Map Case 1:3, Folder 1
Map 25: Rough Mountain and Rich Hole, George Washington N. F. Va., 1/25/1984, Scale 1:24000, 1984 Storage 1