Dickerman, Ernest M. Papers, 1936-2005

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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, 1910-1998

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

Language: English

Abstract: The Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005, contain 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 been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collection Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (library-special@jmu.edu).

Preferred Citation: [identification of item], [box # folder #], 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, contain 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

Folder Title
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. Marys, 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, 1975-1996
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
Ramseys 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

Folder Title
Box : Folder
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

Folder Title
Box : Folder
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 Membership, 1971-1979
3:21
VWC Minutes Membership, 1980-1997
3:22
VWC Newsletters, 1970-2005
4:1
Wilderness Proposals (folder 1 of 2), 1970s
4:2
Wilderness Proposals (folder 2 of 2), 1970s
4:3
Wilderness Proposals, 1980s
4:4
Wilderness Proposals (folder 1 of 2), 1990s
4:5
Wilderness Proposals (folder 2 of 2), 1990s
4:6

Series 4: Maps, 1936-1991

Folder Title
Box : Folder
Maps 1-5, 7-9, 15-24, 1936-1991, undated
:1
Maps 6, 10-14, 25, 1965-1984

Compiled by: Chris Bolgiano; Alicia Henneberry, September 2013; Tiffany Cole, February 2018