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Adirondack Research Library: Research Topics

This guide serves as a starting point to introduce faculty, staff and students to resources held by the Adirondack Research Library located at the Kelly Adirondack Center of Union College.

Will Wilderness Survive?

Below are some areas to explore for your class or research project as originally outlined by Paul Schaefer in the late 1970s.


Geography and Ecology: Origin of the Appalachian range and Laurentian Shield, major divisions of peaks and lake districts, watershed significance, climate, botany, zoology, acid rain.

History: Exploration (Colvin and Emmons), early settlement patterns and current status, development of conservation movement, Forest Preserve and Adirondack Park growth, APA zoning, current status of opposition and other issues.

Psychology and Philosophy: The lure of wilderness, American tradition of "escape to the wilds," individual needs for basic and aesthetic satisfactions. Philosophers Camp (Emerson, Stillman, Lowell, Agassiz, Holmes).

Economics: Industrial development - mining, lumbering, pulp and paper, railroads, health retreat, recreation, Olympics, tourism, hunting, fishing, seasonal versus year-round employment.

Sociology: Native Americans versus European settlement. Historic and current conflicts between local and state interests, community self-rule versus limits imposed by outsider preservationists. Permanent residents, summer residents and tourists perceptions of each other. Seasonal employment and its effect on families.

Political Science: Political maneuvering at the State Government level, past and present. Court battles over various issues such as dams. Varying interpretations and battles of the "forever wild" clause. The Environmental Lobby: components, strengths and weaknesses. Development of opposition groups. Historic legal battles and issues - dams, lumbering.

Literature: Journalists - Hoffman, Headley, Raymond, Hammond, Dawson, Radford, Watern. Naturalists: Burroughs, Murray, Hough, Sargent, Marsh. Fiction - Dreiser, Doctorow. Poetry - Martha Reben, Jeanne Robert Foster.

Art: Tait, Homer, Currier & Ives, Remington, Rockwell Kent, etc. 

Photography: Seneca Ray Stoddard, Eliot Porter. 

Other Cultural Topics: Snowshoe making, rustic furniture, evolution of "great camps" as an architectural style, guideboats.