Paying her way to college, RachelCarson not only graduated with a masters in zoology and became the second womanhired by the US Bureau of Fisheries, but she also wrote many books whichgreatly impacted the United States. Born into an impoverished family, RachelCarson overcame many obstacles while in college, and became one of the 100 mostinfluential people of the 1900s. RachelCarson, born on May 27, 1907, found her love for nature and animals at an earlyage while exploring her family’s 64-acre farm in Springdale, Pennsylvania(Michal; Souder). She always loved exploring the woods by her house with herdog, Candy, and noticed all the bugs and different types of trees with her eyefor detail (Hustard). Because Rachel’s dad, Robert Carson, was an insurance salesman, heoften left home to travel leaving Maria, Rachel’s mom, alone with her four kids(Souder). Her family had a very low income causing them to have no electricityor plumbing (Souder). While she was a child, she loved reading and writing and became a publishedauthor by ten years old (Michal). Throughout high school, Carson had to work ata laboratory in Massachusetts and at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution tohelp fund college (Hustard, Powel).
In1925, she began attending the Pennsylvania College for Woman studying Englishbut later changed to study biology (Michal, Powel). Graduating in 1929 withhigh honors, she received her bachelor’s degree in biology (Powel, Gilbert,Michal). Longing to learn more, Rachel began studying at the oceanographicinstitute of John Hopkins University, where she received her master’s inzoology in 1932 (Michal).
Although Rachel wanted to pursue a doctorate degree,she had to take care of her mother and two orphaned nieces and continued tostruggle financially (Michal, Gilbert). Aftersearching for a long time, she finally found a job teaching zoology at theUniversity of Maryland (Powel). Leaving her teaching career, she scored higherthan all other applicants and became the second woman hired by the US Bureau ofFisheries in 1936 (Michal). Carson began as a marine biologist until 1937 whenshe became a junior aquatic biologist (Michal, Hustard). After the promotion toeditor-in-chief, Carson left this organization in 1952 to pursue her writingcareer (Powel). Although Carson faced much rejection, she published her firstbook, Under the Sea Wind, in 1941which explained the animal life on the East Coast (Powel). Soon after thepublication, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor taking away from the focus on her bookso she only received some admiration for presenting scientific facts in anunderstandable way (Hustard).
Because Carson longed for people to understandthe wonders of the ocean, she wrote and published a second book, The Sea Around Us, in 1951 whicheventually was turnedinto a movie as well (Powel). This book sparked wonder in the mind of all whoread it, causing it to become the best-seller for 86 weeks and allowed her toquit her job (Gilbert, Hustard). A letter from one of Carson’s friends in 1958opened Carson’s eyes to the effects of spraying pesticides on plants (Powel).Her friend studied the forest and noticed much of the wildlife and birds began dyingvery rapidly, and after many tests, it became evident that the cause was the pesticides (Powel).
Carson decided she needed to do something about the problem, so she began towrite another book and before the book was even published, 4,000 copies had already been sold (Hustard). In 1958,Carson spoke to editors about publishing a story in the newspaper beforewriting a book, but they pushed back the deadline in order for Carson to betterprepare (Powel). On December 1, 1958, Carson’s mom died a sudden death, so thedeadline changed again (Powel). Determined, Carson continued researching, butbecame ill in the early 1960’s from pneumonia, and had to have surgery toremove two tumors (Powel). In 1961, Carson was diagnosed with cancer and began radiation whichcaused her body to become weak, but afraid they would cancel her book, kept herwell-being a secret (Powel). After four years of strenuous research andwriting, she finally published, SilentSpring, which explained the effect of poison and how to more cautiously usethem (Powel). John F. Kennedy, a fan of Carson’s writing, read all of her booksand created an assembly of numerous scientists to further study Carson’s theory(Powel).
Although thousands of people greatly enjoyed her writings, manychemical companies spent thousands of dollars trying to discredit her work, butfailed (Powel, Michal). On June 4, 1963, Carson spoke in the courts to testifyher reason for writing the books and replied to the attacks by saying that shebegan this campaign with only the public and environment in mind, not aspecific company (Powel). Through thetrials, Carson remained strong, and won a national book award, national sciencewriting award, and a Guggeheim grant (Michal).
Overcome by cancer, Carson diedon April 14, 1964 and did not get the privilege to see her life’s goalaccomplished- the banning of strong pesticides (Gilbert, Hustard). Awarded thePresidential medal of honor after she died and fondly thought of as an earlyenvironmental activist, Carson changed the United States and many othercountries for the good of the people (Michal, Biography.com editors). Carsonproduced the largest influence to the country and is now known as one of the most significant women ofthe 1900s (Hustard). Because Carson’s life impacted the country in such astrong way, her funeral washeld at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. (Hustard).