Graduate Forester Processing SAF Collection at Forest History Society

March 17, 2022

In 1965, the Society of American Foresters (SAF) selected Forest History Society (FHS) as our national archival repository to preserve important historical records and make them available for research. Over the last 55 years, more than 400 boxes of materials have been donated to FHS for permanent safekeeping. With funding support from SAF, a new project is underway to fully process and organize the SAF collection, as well as create a detailed finding aid to the materials. The new revised aid will provide researchers with a new level of access to these valuable historic documents, which include correspondence, articles, organization records, and reports from the early 1900s to the present. This is one of the largest archival collections at FHS and is highly valued as a core resource for the study of American forest and conservation history.

Under Archivist, Eben Lehman’s supervision, FHS has hired Mary Carlton ("MC") Murphy, who graduated in December from Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment with Master of Forestry and Master of Environmental Management degrees. As a member of SAF, MC is learning about the organization as a researcher might experience it. "The SAF collection really shows you the evolution of the forestry profession," says Murphy. "It surprising to me how much foresters disagreed on topics that we don’t think much about today. Through the correspondence and reports, I’m learning about the early debates over things like forestry school accreditation and whether the federal government should control logging on private land. The most interesting aspect for me has been learning about the profession's early roots in the US and reading first-hand accounts from forestry pioneers such as Gifford Pinchot, Henry Graves, and Duke's own Clarence Korstian."

To learn more about the Forest History Society, visit