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Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter archives


Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter archives
Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter
Collection number:
6.50 linear feet
Bulk dates:
Inclusive dates:
Collection Area:
State of Maryland and Historical Collections
Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries, Hornbake Library, College Park, MD 20742. Tel: 301-405-9212, Fax: 301-314-2709, Email:

The Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter, can trace its origins to the establishment of the club's Southeastern Chapter in 1968. This chapter eventually split into several smaller groups, among them the Potomac Chapter, which had members in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. The Maryland Chapter monitors legislation, works to save natural areas from development, sponsors outings, and disseminates information on environmental matters. The chapter's records include minutes, newsletters, treasurer's reports, bylaws, and calendars of activities. An additional box received in 2007 (Accession 2007-33), relates to endangered species, wetlands protection, waste management, recycling, mass transit, roads, erosion, and pesticides.

Important Information for Users of the Collection


This collection is open for research.

Preferred citation:

Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter archives, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Publication rights:

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


This collection is PROCESSED.

Historical Note

Naturalist John Muir founded the Sierra Club in California in 1892. His goals were:

To explore, enjoy, and render accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast; to publish authentic information concerning them; to enlist the support and cooperation of the people and government in preserving the forest and other natural resources of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

One hundred years later, the Sierra Club has organized chapters across the United States and into Canada, applying these goals to all natural areas, not just the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The only goal that has changed is the goal to render natural areas accessible, for "accessible" can mean the development and destruction against which the Club has fought.

The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club is much younger than the Sierra Club itself. In 1905, the Club bylaws were amended to allow the formation of regional Club chapters, but it was not until 1950, when the Atlantic Chapter was formed, that the first chapter outside California was created. The Atlantic Chapter included all of the states east of the Mississippi River, and had just 150 members. The first division of the Atlantic Chapter came in 1968 with the formation of the Southeastern Chapter. This new chapter took responsibility for Sierra Club activities in Delaware, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, and West Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama and Florida. After the Southeastern Chapter split into several other chapters, each responsible for a small geographic area, the chapter was renamed the Potomac Chapter, and included members in Delaware, Washington, D. C., Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia; members from Virginia and West Virginia subsequently formed their own chapters. In 1992, the Delaware Group broke away from the Potomac Chapter. Most recently, in 1994, the Potomac Chapter formally changed its name, becoming the Maryland Chapter.

Today the Maryland Chapter oversees Sierra Club activities in Maryland and Washington, D. C., and has over 12,000 members. The chapter is divided into ten groups who organize local Sierra Club activities. The ten groups of the Maryland Chapter are the Anne Arundel Group, the Baltimore Group, the Catoctin Group, the D. C. Group, the Eastern Shore Group, the Howard County Group, the Patuxent Group, the Rock Creek Group, the Southern Maryland Group and the Western Maryland Group. Each chapter of the Sierra Club, including the Maryland Chapter, has an executive committee comprised of volunteer members who manage and direct the chapter's activities and resources. Six of the committee members are at-large members and each group sends a delegate.

The very first activities organized by the Maryland Chapter, back when it was still the Atlantic Chapter, were outings such as nature walks, hikes, luncheons, socials, and seminars. The Maryland Chapter and all of its groups continue this tradition. Furthermore, the Maryland Chapter and its groups continue the conservation work started by John Muir in 1892. In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Maryland (Potomac) Chapter worked to survey its region for site that could be designated wilderness areas and protected from development. It was successful in pushing through legislation that created the Dolly Sods, Otter Creek, and Cranberry Wilderness Areas in West Virginia. More recently, in 1984, pressure from Potomac Chapter members encouraged the Maryland General Assembly to enact landmark legislation on the Chesapeake Bay. This legislation created a state policy of protection for the Chesapeake Bay and formed a Critical Areas Commission to implement the policy. Also, the legislation tightened laws concerning agricultural run-off, sediment control, fisheries management, and wildlife habitats. The Maryland Chapter also works to save small and medium sized natural areas for development. For example, in 1990 the chapter was instrumental in having undeveloped parts of Fort Meade taken over by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and incorporated into the Patuxent Wildlife Research Service and National Wildlife Refuge.

Much of the Maryland Chapter's work is politically oriented. Members monitor legislation on the local, state, and national levels, informing the public of the potential impact of the new laws. The chapter also endorses political candidates who support environmentalism, and it publishes the voting records of current political office holders on environmental issues. Among the legislative issues in which the chapter is interested are recycling, air, water, land, and noise pollution, and alternative energy sources.

The Maryland Chapter of the Sierra Club and its group inform its members and the public of such issues and activities by publishing newsletters. The chapter's first newsletter, begun in 1966, was the Potomac Sierran; in 1968 the name changed to The Mountain Laurel. This newsletter was published until 1975 when group newsletters began to appear. However, in 1982 the Sierra Club's national headquarters passed new rules requiring every chapter to publish a newsletter, so the chapter began publishing The Mountain Laurel again. Renamed the Chesapeake in 1984, the chapter newsletter now comes out four times a year to an ever increasing membership.

As more and more people in the United States become aware of the world's environmental problems, the Sierra Club and its chapters continue to gain new members, expand their outing and preservation activities, and wield greater influence in the nation's legislatures.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The records of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter, cover the years 1966 through 2004.

The records include executive committee minutes, other committee minutes and records, campaign and special event materials, grant applications, a full run of the Maryland Chapter newsletter and the Rock Creek Group newsletter, and several issues of the Patuxent Group newsletter. Also contained in the collection are activity calendars, treasurer's reports, and bylaws of the organization.

The records document the growth of the Maryland Chapter and the expansion of the environmental movement from the late 1960s to 2004. The materials describe trends in local, state, and national legislation affecting the environment, the history of development in the Maryland-Delaware-Washington, D. C., region, and the Maryland Chapter's attempts to educate the public on environmental issues.

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Walter Wells donated the Archives of the Sierra Club, Potomac Chapter to the University of Maryland Libraries in 1991 on behalf of the Sierra Club, Potomac Chapter, Metropolitan Washington Group, and its successors. In 2004, additional copies of Chapter and Group newsletters were donated. In August 2005, Colleen Ruddick, an intern at the Maryland Chapter, transferred three boxes of material to the University of Maryland Libraries, to be added to the current archives.

Processing Information

Processed by:

Processed by Heather Cockerham, September 1992. Addenda incorporated and guide revised by Jennie A. Levine, July 2004; Janna Robinson, August 2005.

Processing note:

The material of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter archives was separated by series, refoldered into acid-free folders, and boxed in acid-free boxes. Rusty staples were removed and replaced by plastic clips. Publications printed on newsprint were unfolded and stored in flat boxes, and issues of the Sierra Bulletin were transferred to the library's general collection. Finally, a guide was written to the archives of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter. In 2004, additional issues of The Patuxent Sierran and Chesapeake: The Sierra Club Potomac Chapter Newsletter were incorporated into Series II.

In 2005, the archives received additional Maryland Chapter materials, and six boxes were added to the collection. Records were refoldered into acid-free folders, and boxed in acid-free boxes. Publications printed on newsprint were unfolded and stored in flat boxes; publications in plastic binders were transferred to acid-free folders. The finding aid was revised. The collection was renamed "Archives of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter."

Encoded by:

EAD markup created using EAD database in Microsoft Access. Markup completed by Janna Robinson, September 14, 2005.

Arrangement of Collection

The collection is organized as two series

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series 1: Administration, 1973-2001 (2.5 linear feet)

Series I consists of administrative records from the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter. Included are the minutes of various committees and groups, including the executive committee; correspondence; financial records; a draft of the history of the Potomac Chapter; a proposal for the chapter's structure; the chapter's bylaws; and committee and membership records. A significant portion of this series is composed of materials reflecting the pressing issues confronted by the Maryland chapters by way of campaigns and special events. The materials are arranged alphabetically by subject, and then chronologically within each subject.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Campaigns and Special Events -- General, 1990-1991 series 1box 1folder 1
Campaigns and Special Events -- Centennial Campaign, 1980-1984 and 1989-1993 series 1box 1folder 2
Campaigns and Special Events -- Chapman's Landing -- 21-Canoe Salute, 1996 series 1box 1folder 3
Campaigns and Special Events -- Hampton Park, 1991 series 1box 1folder 4
Campaigns and Special Events -- Riverside, 1990-1991 series 1box 1folder 5
Campaigns and Special Events -- Riverside, 1990-1991 series 1box 1folder 6
Campaigns and Special Events -- Sierra Outings Recruitment Campaign, 1990-1995 series 1box 1folder 7
Campaigns and Special Events -- Sprawl Costs us All, 1997 and undated series 1box 1folder 8
Campaigns and Special Events -- Washington Bypass, 1990-1995 and undated series 1box 2folder 1
Committees -- Glenndale-Seabrook-Lanham Citizen Advisory Committee, 1989-1990 series 1box 2folder 2
Committees -- Executive Committee, 1989 and undated series 1box 2folder 3
Correspondence, 1987-1990 series 1box 2folder 4
Correspondence, 1991-1995 series 1box 2folder 5
Correspondence -- Patuxent Group, 1989-1994, 2001 series 1box 2folder 6
Environmental Issues -- Conservation, 1981-1990 and undated series 1box 2folder 7
Environmental Issues, 1990-1994 series 1box 2folder 8
Finances, 1975-1976, 1985, 1986-1989 series 1box 2folder 9
Finances -- Treasurer Reports, 1988-1990 series 1box 2folder 10
Finances -- Treasurer Reports, 1990-1996 series 1box 2folder 11
Fundraising, 1990-1994 and undated series 1box 3folder 1
Grants, 1988-1989 series 1box 3folder 2
Grants, 1994-1997 series 1box 3folder 3
Grants -- Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant, 2002 series 1box 3folder 4
History of the Potomac Chapter, January 6, 1987 series 1box 3folder 5
Membership, 1988-1994 and undated series 1box 3folder 6
Membership -- Field Recruitment Incentive Program (FRIP), 1990-1991 series 1box 3folder 7
Minutes -- Administration Committee, September 10, 1980 - July 7, 1981, 1984 series 1box 3folder 8
Minutes -- Appalachian Regional Conservation Council, 1990-1993 series 1box 3folder 9
Minutes -- Board of Directors, 1989-1990, 1993, 1997-1998 series 1box 3folder 10
Minutes -- Board of Directors, 2000-2001 series 1box 3folder 11
Minutes -- Conservation Committee, 1985-1986 series 1box 4folder 1
Minutes -- DC Group, 1990-1992 series 1box 4folder 2
Minutes -- Executive Committee, 1973-1977 series 1box 4folder 3
Minutes -- Executive Committee, 1983-1989 series 1box 4folder 4
Minutes -- Executive Committee, 1989-1991 series 1box 4folder 5
Minutes -- Maryland Chapter, 1977 series 1box 4folder 6
Minutes -- Potomac Chapter, 1990-1994 series 1box 4folder 7
Personnel -- 1989-1993 series 1box 4folder 8
Policy and Bylaws -- Potomac Chapter, 1983-1991 and undated series 1box 4folder 9
Proposal for Structure and Bylaws, 1975-1979 series 1box 4folder 10
Reports -- Activity Reports, 1990-1991 series 1box 4folder 11
Sierra Club Distribution Material, Pamphlets, 1996-1998 and undated series 1box 4folder 12
Sierra Club Goals/Agenda/Legislative Issues, 1989-1996 series 1box 5folder 1
Sierra Club Goals/Agenda/Legislative Issues, 1989-1992 series 1box 5folder 2
Sierra Club Goals/Agenda/Legislative Issues -- Recycling Prince Georges County, 1988 series 1box 5folder 3
Training, 1989-1990 and undated series 1box 5folder 4

Series 2: Publications, 1966-2004 (4.00 linear feet)

Series II consists of publications of the Sierra Club, Maryland Chapter (formerly the Potomac Chapter), the Patuxent Group, the Washington Metropolitan Group and its successors, and Sierra Club national. The series contains a full run of the Potomac Chapter newsletter under the following titles: The Potomac Sierran (1966-1968), The Southeast Chapter Newsletter (1968), The Mountain Laurel (1968-1984), and the Chesapeake (1984-2004). Other newsletters included in the collection are The Washington Conservationist and The Patuxent Sierran, both published by groups of the Maryland Chapter. Among the variety of other publications included are chapter calendars and activity listings, training manuals, and nationally distributed handbooks. The series is arranged alphabetically by title, and then chronologically within each title.

DescriptionSeriesBox / ReelFolder / Frame
Chesapeake (Oversize), 1993-2005 series 2box 1folder 1
The Mountain Laurel (Oversize), 1968-1971 series 2box 2folder 1
The Mountain Laurel (Oversize) series 2box 2folder 2
The Mountain Laurel (Oversize), 1971-1973 series 2box 2folder 3
The Washington Conservationist (Oversize) series 2box 2folder 4
The Washington Conservationist (Oversize), 1974-1984 series 2box 2folder 5
The Washington Conservationist (Oversize), 1982-1986 series 2box 2folder 6
Chapter Personnel Administration Manual, 1987-1991 series 2box 3folder 1
Human Resources Management Guide, 1974-1982 series 2box 3folder 2
Inner City Outings, 1988 series 2box 3folder 3
Membership Idea Book, 1996 series 2box 3folder 4
National Publications, 1993 series 2box 3folder 5
Metropolitan Washington Sierra Club: Activities/Outings Calendar, 1989 series 2box 3folder 6
Metropolitan Washington Sierra Club: Activities/Outings Calendar, 1989-1991 series 2box 3folder 7
Patuxent Sierran, 1975-1987 series 2box 3folder 8
Patuxent Sierran, 1987-1990 series 2box 3folder 9
Potomac Sierran, 1966-1968 series 2box 3folder 10
Sierra Club Handbook -- Training for Effectiveness, 1986 series 2box 4folder 1
Sierra Club Handbook -- Conservation Action, 1987 series 2box 4folder 2
Sierra Club Handbook -- Election Politics, 1984 series 2box 4folder 3
Sierra Club Handbook -- Political Training, Undated series 2box 4folder 4
Sierra Club Handbook -- Political Training, Undated series 2box 4folder 5
Southeast Chapter Newsletter, 1968 series 2box 4folder 6

Related Material

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