A Guide to the Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005
Collection Number SC 3085
Processed by: Chris Bolgiano
Revised by: Alicia Henneberry, September, 2013
Repository: Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University
Title: Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005
Collection No.: SC 3085
Creator: Ernest M. Dickerman
Extent: Three records storage boxes, one Hollinger box, one oversize map file, and one oversize blueprint box.
Abstract: Contains a wide variety of materials that document Dickerman's efforts to obtain Congressional designations of Wilderness for various tracts of public land, mostly in Virginia. Also contains papers of the Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC), a grass roots conservation group that Dickerman led.
Access Restrictions: None
Use Restrictions: None
Preferred Citation: Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2000, SC 3085, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.
Acquisition Information: Donated by E.M. Dickerman in November, 1994
Accruals: After E.M. Dickerman’s death, several additions of papers were donated by his nephew and executor, Robert Dickerman.
Bio/Historical Note: Ernest M. Dickerman was born December 22, 1910 in Austin, Illinois, but moved to the Adirondacks in New York at three years of age. When he was about six, the family moved to Richmond, VA where his mother died of TB 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, TN. 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 TN), 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 recently acquired mountain farm near Buffalo Gap in Swoope, Augusta County, VA, 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, filed in the Obituaries and Biography folder in Series 2.
Other Dickerman items are located in the staff and correspondence series in the papers of The Wilderness Society housed in the Denver Public Library, Denver, CO, as indicated in the finding aid for that collection filed in the last series of this collection.
Scope and Content: 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. They document Dickerman’s activities as a leader of the movement to designate Wilderness Areas on public lands in the East 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 I, Places and policies, 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, VA folders hold the largest body of materials; Laurel Fork was Dickerman's favorite place in VA, and he worked intensively (and successfully) against a proposed gas line through it.
Series II, Dickerman’s professional and personal correspondence, includes carbon copies of his 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 III, Virginia Wilderness Committee, includes operational documents including minutes, financial reports, newsletters, Virginia Wilderness coalition notes, the 1984 VA Wilderness Bill, and wilderness proposals.
Series IV, Finding Aid to The Wilderness Society Papers, Denver Public Library, CO. Aug. 2000 ed, includes mention of Dickerman in the staff and correspondence series.
Series V, Oversize, contains 25 Maps. Located in SC Map Cabinet and Storage 1.
This Collection is arranged in five series:
Separated Material: Series V is located separately from the rest of the collection in SC Map Cabinet and in Storage 1
Series I: Places and Policies Box: Folder
Alaska-Pipeline etc. (1971-73) 1:1
Assateague (1970-74) 1:2
Assorted State Issues (1969?-74) 1:3
Back Creek-Pumped Storage Project (1973-74) 1:4
Back Bay-Vehicular Access Flight (1970-81) 1:5
Back Bay-Wilderness Proposals (1974-78) 1:6
Big Levels/St. Mary’s (1972-79) 1:7
Bull Run Mountain (1973) 1:8
Central Atlantic Environment Center (1972) 1:9
Conservation Council of VA (1971-75) 1:10
Crawford Mountain (1973-74) 1:11
Cumberland Gap (1967; 1972-73) 1:12
Dismal Swamp (1972-75) 1:13
Eastern Wilderness Bill-House (1973-74) 1:14
Eastern Wilderness Bill-Senate (1973-74) 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 1:16B
Gathright (1972-73) 1:17
Hipes Dam (1967-72) 1:18
James River Face, Cave Mtn. Lake (1971-74) 1:19
(See also, Oversize File for map)
Laurel Fork (1962-74) 1:20
Laurel Fork-Gas Line Proposal (1975-6/95) 1:21
(See also, Oversize File for map)
Laurel Fork-Gas Line Proposal (1975-6/95) 1:22
Laurel Fork-Environmental Assessment, Decision
Notice and Responses (1995-97) 1:23
Little River (1973-74) 2:1
Little Stoney (1973) 2:2
Mason Neck (1973) 2:3
Massanutten (1974) 2:4
(Mill Creek, see Mountain Lake)
Mt. Pleasant (1985-87) 2:5
Mt. Rogers (1971-77) 2:6
Mountain Lake, Peters Mountain, Mill Creek
(1974, 1994) (See Oversize File for Map) 2:7
National Forests (1969-75)1982-89; includes
1986 appeal of GWNF plan) 2:8
National Forests-Unit Planning (1972-74) 2:9
Peter’s Mountain, see Mountain Lake
Ramsey’s Draft (1968?-79) 2:10
Rich Hole (1973-77) 2:11
Roadless Areas (1991) 2:12
Roadless Areas (1992-94) 2:13
Saint Mary’s, see Big Levels
Salem Church Dam (1971-73) 2:14
Shenandoah Natl. Park Wilderness (1967-73) 2:15
Shenandoah Wilderness (1987,93;2001) 2:16
Sierra Club- VA Groups (1973-74) 2:17
VA Environmental Coor. Legislation (1973) 2:18
VA State Parks (1971,73) 2:19
Wetlands (1970-72) 2:20
Wild Areas Bill (1972) 2:21
Series II: Dickerman Correspondence and Personal Files
Dickerman Correspondence, (1962, ’68, ’74, 76-80) 2:22-30
Correspondence (1981-98) 3:1-9
Master List of Basic Statements on Wilderness 3:10
Personal Letters and items 3:11
(Contains Christmas messages; series of letters and postcards from Mildred Menard of MA, Sept.-Nov. 1969; biographical articles; cartoon; three two-inch plastic hammers in envelope labeled "The Patent Button Co. of Tenn, Knoxville, Tennessee"; and three photos, 1967 (see top of page for one of two 1967 photos) and 1975. Also includes obituaries and two copies of booklet, "Ernie Dickerman,1910-1998: A Tribute," edited by Elizabeth Murray of the VA Wilderness Committee and published by The Wilderness Society, 1999, 75 p., illus.
Talks by Ernest M. Dickerman 3:12
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (1965-67) 3:13
(See also, Oversize File for maps)
Wilderness Workshops (1967-68) 3:15
Dickerman’s notebooks (19966, 1975-76) 3:15A
Robert Marchall Wilderness Fund Minutes Book
(1940-53, 1969) 3:15B
Series III: Virginia Wilderness Committee (VXC)
Virginia Wilderness Bill Hearings, 1984 3:16
VA Wilderness Coalition (1979-87) 3:17
VWC Correspondence (1970-74) 3:18
VWC Finances (1969-98, 2001) 3:19
VWC Hot Line (1971-72) 3:20
VWC Minutes & Membership(1971-79) 3:21
VWC Minutes & Membership (1980-97) 3:22
VWC Newsletters (1970-2005) 4:1
Wilderness Proposals, 1970s, 1 4:2
(See also Oversize File for maps)
Wilderness Proposals, 1970s, 2 4:3
Wilderness Proposals, 1980s 4:4
Wilderness Proposals, 1990s, 1 4:5
Wilderness Proposals, 1990s, 2 4:6
Series IV: Finding Aid
Finding Aid to the Wilderness Society Papers 4:7
Series V: Oversize-Located in SC Map Cabinet and Storage 1