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Richard Goodwin papers on the Nature Conservancy

Identifier: MS-043

Content Description

This collection documents Richard Goodwin’s involvement with The Nature Conservancy(TNC). The collection includes correspondence, clippings, deeds and tracts of Nature Conservancy land, plans, maps, architectural drawings, visitor registers, planning documents, publicity, publications, research, reports, brochures, meeting minutes, newsletters, slides, and photographs that reflect the work of the Nature Conservancy collected and observed by Richard Goodwin. The bulk of the material pertains to the work of the Nature Conservancy both in Connecticut and across the United States. However, Goodwin donated his property, Burnham Brook Preserve in Haddam, Connect, to the Nature Conservancy and there are also many materials related to this site.


  • Creation: 1937 - 2006
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1953 - 1999


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is an environmental nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of land. Originally called the Ecologists Union (EU), it was created from the merging of two committees of the Ecological Society of America (ESA): the Committee for the Preservation of Natural Conditions (1917) and the Committee on the Study of Plants and Animals (1931). The EU became an independent group from the ESA in March 1946 and by December 1947 a permanent constitution was adopted. They actively began recruiting members from outside the academic community. The EU changed its name to the Nature Conservancy in September 1950 and became a non-profit in November of 1951. The mission of the Nature Conservancy at that time was “the preservation of examples of every kind of natural feature…especially..that are becoming rare under the pressure of men’s activities.” They focused on a program of land acquisition and preservation in cooperation with local groups and agencies in all parts of the country. The first property acquired by the Nature Conservancy was Mianus Gorge located in Bedford, New York in 1953. This In 1954, TNC granted its first chapter charter in New York which launched a network of chapter and regional field offices across the United States. By the 1970s, the Nature Conservancy began working with corporations for land donations. It also became more strategic in its land acquisitions and started both a National Areas Inventory which would help locate rare and endangered species and a Natural Heritage Program which focused on preserving specific at-risk species by controlling specific habitats. In addition to its work in the United States, by 1980 an international program was established which grew to include preserves in Latin America and the Caribbean and projects in Canada, Palau, and Indonesia. In the 1990s, the Nature Conservancy continued to develop its approach to acquiring sites by their impact on preserving biological diversity. In 2000, TNC led a large capital campaign, the Campaign for Conservation, that raised over a billion dollars to help preserve land parcels identified as 200 Last Great Places. It celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2001. In 2003, The Washington Post wrote a three-part series on the Nature Conservancy which raised questions on the Nature Conservancy’s business practices and accountability. This resulted in a Senate hearing and led to the Conservancy tightening its practices. The Nature Conservancy continues its work in conserving and managing lands in the United States and across the globe.

Work Cited Birchard, Bill. Nature’s Keepers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2005.

Ingram, Frederick and Stansell, Christina M. "The Nature Conservancy." The Nature Conservancy. In T. Grant (Ed.), International Directory of Company Histories (Vol. 138, pp. 268-272). Detroit, MI: St. James Press. Retrieved from

About Richard Goodwin

Richard Hale Goodwin (1910-2007) was a pioneering land preservationist, accomplished botanist, early president of The Nature Conservancy, and longtime professor of botany at Connecticut College. Richard “Dick” Goodwin received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from Harvard University. He studied forestry, zoology and botany and received his doctorate in biology in 1937. From 1937 to 1938, Goodwin was a Fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation University of Copenhagen researching plant hormones. When he returned to the United States in 1938, he joined the faculty of the University of Rochester as an Instructor in Botany. He worked and helped manage the herbarium for six years.

Goodwin headed the Botany department and the Connecticut College Arboretum for 32 years. He created an early Environmental Studies program known as Human Ecology. Students from this program would collect data and contribute collected essay’s about the Burnham Brook Preserve. He also encouraged, collected, and maintained the research done on the Preserve by Connecticut College faculty and other scholars.

Goodwin helped found The Nature Conservancy in 1951 and served as the president from 1956-1958 and from 1964-1966. At the end of his first term as president, Goodwin was involved with a proxy battle for the leadership of the Nature Conservancy. George Fell, a founder and executive director of the Nature Conservancy, attempted to dislodge Goodwin’s nomination of Edward Munn as the next president. There was then a struggle to gain proxy votes from the board to maintain control of the organization. Goodwin ultimately won and set the next stage of the Nature Conservancy’s growth. In his second term as president, Goodwin would bring in the professionalization of the organization by making the president a paid position hired by the board. This change was secured by a four-year grant from the Ford Foundation in 1966 for $550,000.

In 1959, he helped negotiate the preservation of 3,000 acres of forest along the coast of California in what was then the largest land trust deal in the Conservancy’s history. In 1960, he started the Burnham Brook Preserve which would grow from 46 acres to over a 1000 acres in Haddam, CT. He would remain active both at the regional and national level in the organization.

Goodwin married Ester Bemis in 1936. They had two children, Mary Linder Wetzel and Richard H. Goodwin Jr., and four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. He died on July 6, 2007, at the age of 96.

Resources Hevesi, Dennis. 2017. “Richard H. Goodwin, 96; led Nature Conservancy” New York Times News Service, July 17, 2007.

Harvard Forest. 2007 “Richard Goodwin-Botanist and Friend.” August 1, 2007.


16.89 Linear Feet (41 boxes, 4 oversize folders)

Language of Materials



Records of the Nature Conservancy, particularly with respect to the work performed by cofounder Richard Goodwin in Connecticut.


This collection is arranged into three series and then into additional subseries. Series I. Burnham Brook Preserve, 1956-2007 with three additional subseries: Subseries A. Administrative materials, 1956-2007; Subseries B. Land Tracts, 1956-2007; and Subseries C. Research, 1956-2007. Series II. National Organization, 1937-2007 includes three additional subseries: Subseries A. Administration, 1950-2006; Subseries B. Correspondence, 1951-2006; and Subseries C. Projects by geographic location, 1934-2007. Series III. Nature Conservancy of CT, 1953-2006 contains two subseries: Subseries A. Administration, 1953-2006; and Subseries B. Projects, 1953-2006. The arrangement roughly follows Richard Goodwin’s arrangement. Materials are arranged alphabetically unless otherwise stated.

Custodial History

This material was created, collected,and maintained by Richard Goodwin. Some of these materials were given to the college and some processing work was done. However the bulk of the materials on the Nature Conservancy was held by Goodwin. After his death this material was passed to his son and then given to Glen Dreyer, former director of the Arboretum. Dreyer contacted the LEar Center in 2018 when he retired

Related Materials

Related collections held at Connecticut College include Goodwin's papers, RG18 Richard H. Goodwin Papers, 1897-2006.Also, RG72 William Niering papers, 1942-2000 contains materials relevant to the Nature Consevancy as Niering was Goodwin's colleague and active with the Connecticut Chapter of the Nature Consevancy.

Condition Description

The materials are in good condition. The filing cabinets were initally kept at Richard Goodwin's house. They were then moved to the the attic of the Arboretum garage. There was a humidifier running in this space. Goodwin was well organized and file cabinets are labeled and files themselves have good descriptive titles handwritten on many of the files. There was no mold seen. No AV materials were found in this collections.

  • Duplicate materials of blank maps, forms, brochures, and reports were removed from the file. Brochures related to appliances at Burnham Book
  • Four folders: Water Quality Survey Hunts Brook Watershed, July 1988; Report to Conservation and Research Foundation 2006, Spaulding Pond Trust 1968, and Loan: Spitzer, Paul 1992.
  • 1 box Science Center of Eastern Connecticut. Richard Goodwin was involved as a board of trustee for a while and the College leased land and (I think) helped build the building. There may have been a connection with programs at the Arboretum.
  • The Darling materials are 6 boxes of slides, letters, drawings, cards, clippings, notebook/sketchbook.
Guide to the Richard Goodwin papers on the Nature Conservancy
Processed by Rose Oliveira
June 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Linda Lear Center for Special Collections and Archives Repository

Connecticut College
270 Mohegan Ave
New London CT 06320 United States