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Identifier: CONS245


The Nature Conservancy Records contain an assortment of correspondence, financial records, maps, marketing materials, memos, meeting minutes, newsletters, posters, presentations, publications, reports, research, video recordings, as well as some photographs and color slides generated by the organization since its founding in 1950. Earlier documents related to preceding organizations, such as the Ecological Society of America, and Ecologists Union, are also included. The bulk of the records consist of office files generated by various staff members of the organization.

When The Nature Conservancy received its first of three Ford Foundation grants in 1965, it assumed a more professional structure versus the strictly volunteer organization it had been since its founding in 1950. With this change, the organization discarded the bulk of the organization’s early, pre-1965 records. This policy continued into, at least, the 1980s and 1990s, when a formal record retention policy was established. The resulting collection represents more of a “sampling” of documents generated by the organization rather than a comprehensive archive.


The bulk of the documents in this series cover the early years of The Nature Conservancy from 1946 until approximately 1973. These records document the early administration of the organization and include information related to annual meetings, board of governors, finance, membership, organizational history, presidents, programs and projects, publications, reference and research. Additional files document the early years of several of the United States chapters. Also included are files and publications related to the history of the founding of the organization and the relationship with preceding organizations, such as the Ecological Society of America and the Ecologists Union.

Due to The Nature Conservancy's discard of early records in the mid-1960s, the majority of the documents in this series were collected and preserved by former TNC officers, including Richard Pough (3rd TNC President 1953-1956); Charles M. Mason (Treasurer 1960-1969, Board of Governors 1960-1975); Dr. Richard H. Goodwin (4th & 8th TNC Presidents 1956-1957, 1964-1966); and Thomas W. Richards (10th TNC President 1967-1972).

Of special interest in the series is the unpublished manuscript: The Gorge by 12th TNC President (1973-1980), Patrick Noonan. The manuscript provides a narrative history of The Nature Conservancy and its preceding organizations from approximately 1917 to 1980. Included in the text is much anecdotal history regarding employees, activities undertaken by the organization, and the acquisition of the various preserves. The title of the book refers to the Mianus River Gorge. Located near Bedford, New York, the Mianus River Gorge constituted the first land to be acquired by the organization in 1954.


The files in this series provide an overview of the administrative and operational records for the main or national office of The Nature Conservancy from approximately 1972 to 2014.

The 54 boxes at the beginning of the series are made up of office files and documents from the organization’s 12th to the 19th Presidents and CEOs. These include Patrick F. Noonan (1973-1980), William D Blair (1980-1987), Frank Dennis Boren (1987-1989), John C. Sawhill (1990-2000), W. William Weeks (2000-2001), Steven J. McCormack (2001-2007), Stephanie Meeks (2007-2008), and Mark R. Tercek (2008- ). Other administrative files in the series are from the offices of Ray Culter, Vice President & Director of Administration and Trade Lands Dispositions (1973-2009), and Mike Dennis, Vice President and Legal Counsel.

Administrative files contain information related to awards, biographical information, correspondence, boards of governors and directors, campaigns, clippings, conferences and meetings, financial, marketing, non-governmental agencies, partnerships and collaborations, programs and projects, and TNC organization files. The remainder of the series contains a sampling of related operational files, primarily office files from the various departments found at the national office. Subjects or topics include awards, fellowships and internships, financial, human resources, marketing, publications, reference and research, and other assorted TNC related office files.


The series contains research materials and reports, articles for publication, manuals, training materials and office files generated by the Conservation Science Division.

The Division originally began in the 1960s as a scientific focus committee set up to make recommendations on conservation science policy. Robert Jenkins was hired as the first staff scientist for The Nature Conservancy in 1970. Jenkins eventually became Vice President for Science before retiring in 1993. Under his leadership, the Conservation Science Division was established and he was instrumental in shaping TNC’s focus and emphasis on scientific research in relation to the agency’s nature preserves. The initial 10 boxes in this series contain Robert Jenkins’ office files dating from 1952-1999.

The remainder of the boxes in the series are made up of office files from the various members of the division. These files contain clippings, conference agendas and notes, meetings and workshops, handbooks and manuals, memorandums of agreements (MOAs), memorandums of understanding (MOUs), photographs, publications, research and reports, and training materials. These files document the various topics and programs researched and reported on by the division: biodiversity, plant, animal and insect related databanks, databases and networks; and Natural Heritage and Stewardship Programs.

SERIES 4 UNITED STATES CHAPTERS 1937, 1969-2012 BOX 130-169

This series contains files and publications related to land preserves overseen by TNC State Chapters across the United States. Correspondence, marketing materials, publications and reports, as well as some photographs make up the bulk of materials in this series. The series should not be considered a complete archive for the U.S. Chapters, but rather the series provides more of an overview or “sampling” of documents, reports, and publications related to the activities of many of the chapters and nature preserves.

The first of the various state chapters affiliated with The Nature Conservancy was the Eastern New York Chapter, founded in October 1954 when a group of concerned individuals and TNC members from the Albany, New York area met. The group felt that TNC would function more efficiently if local chapters were formed. Such chapters could actively seek out appropriate lands for acquisition and protection, and, being acquainted with local people and conditions, perform these functions better than a centralized organization. The Board of Governors for The Nature Conservancy was petitioned and in October 1954, a charter was issued for the Eastern New York Chapter. Materials in this series are representative of the various state chapters associated with The Nature Conservancy and are arranged into ten geographic regions. The regions are defined along state boundaries.

United States Regions

1. East -- Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia

2. Great Plains -- Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota

3. Mid-Atlantic -- North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia

4. Midwest -- Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin

5. Northeast -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont

6. Northwest & Hawaii -- Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon, Washington

7. Rocky Mountain -- Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Wyoming

8. Western -- California, Nevada, Utah

9. South Central -- Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas

10. Southeast -- Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi

The final portion of the series contains files and publications related to territories of the United States, and land preserves that cross multiple state boundaries and/or regions.


This series contains administrative and international conservation science related files generated by the Worldwide Office of The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy's international interests were initially handled in the 1960s by an International Desk. The International Program was created in 1974 by 12th TNC President (1973-1908) Patrick Noonan with the International Conservation Program being launched in 1980. Over the years, the division has been known by a variety of names as its interests and operations changed and expanded geographically: Caribbean Program, Latin American (LA), Latin America Division (LAD), Latin American Caribbean (LAC), Latin American Caribbean Division (LACD), Latin American Program (LAP), and International Program. It is currently known as the Worldwide Office of The Nature Conservancy.

The series begins with administrative files generated by various division directors. Included are materials from R. Michael Wright (1974-1979), Spencer Beebe (1979-1987), Geoffrey S. Barnard (1987-1995), Brad Northrup (1989-1996), and Alexander Fletcher Watson (1997-2002). The files related to Spencer Beebe files were originally part of TNC President William Blair’s files (1980-1987). They have been included in this series to help document the International Program attaining full division status in 1986 with its own sets of by-laws, board of trustees and membership program. Administrative files contain correspondence, memos, report, information on planning, financial files, fund raising, science, projects and programs, and reports. The Worldwide series also contains files related to its own Conservation Science Division.

The remainder of the files in this series document the operational aspects of the Worldwide Office, and include information on the following programs and campaigns: Parks in Peril (PiP) and its supporting components, Balancing Themes (BT), Community Conservation Program (CCP), Partnerships in Applied Research of Conservation (PARC). Other programs and projects include Campaign for a Sustainable Planet, Debt for Nature Swap, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Conservation by Design, Conservation Training Week (CTW), Ecotourism, International Program Project Migratory Bird Conservation (MIB), Population-Environment Overlay Mapping Project (PEOMAP), Saving the Last Great Places, Stewardship, and Wings of the Americas.

Conservation Science Division program files for the Worldwide Office include: Biodiversity Support Program, Community Conservation, Conservation Science Balancing Themes (CSBT), Conservation Science Data Centers (CDC’s), and Rapid Ecological Assessment (REA).

This series also contains a compilation of related operational files from various TNC - Worldwide former staff members, including Suzanne Aloi, Paquita Bath, Tia Nelson, Gregory A. Miller, Lisa Vonder-Haar, Richard Devine, and Roger Sayre, Head, Conservation Science Division of the International Program.


The series contains newsletters, publications, reports, and marketing materials related to the various programs, including educational outreach, generated by the Worldwide office in conjunction with land preserves located in North, South and Central America; the Caribbean and Asia and the Pacific.

Materials are arranged by continent and then alphabetically by name of country. Publications in the series are in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.


The series contains assorted VHS, Betacam videotapes, as well as other formats that document the activities of the National Office, TNC Chapters from the United States, and activities at Worldwide locations. Included are Public Service Announcements (PSAs), and videos documenting the organization's meetings, programs, projects, etc.


The series contains an assortment of promotional materials including posters, and banners documenting outreach and fundraising to the general public. Additional materials, such as awards, topographical maps, charts, land surveys, etc. document some of the operational aspects of the organization.

SERIES 9 UNPROCESSED 1972-2016 BOX 224-225

The series contains unprocessed materials donatead to the collection after 2018.


  • 1931-2016


Language of Materials

Materials are primarily in English with some items in Spanish, Portuguese, French, Japanese, Indonesian, and Chinese.


The collection is open for research.


Literary rights and copyrights - as appropriate - are assigned to the Denver Public Library. Floor plans for still standing privately owned buildings cannot be copied without written permission from the owner(s).


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical Item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.


The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is a conservation organization focused on acquiring significant tracts of land, either by gift or purchase, in order to preserve their biotic communities and unique natural features. Once acquired, the organization maintains the land through its local chapters or turns it over for purchase and management by federal or state agencies. The purpose of the organization is to preserve plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive. The Nature Conservancy operates the largest system of private nature preserves and sanctuaries in the world.

TNC evolved from an earlier organization known as the Ecologists Union. The Ecologists Union was itself formed from an earlier organization in 1946 when 158 members from the Committee for Preservation of National Conditions broke away from their parent organization, the Ecological Society of America. Based in Washington, DC, the committee membership decided to form a new organization in order to pursue more "direct action" when natural areas were in danger. The leader of the Ecologists Union was Dr. Victor E. Shelford (1877-1968). Shelford had also been the first president of the Ecological Society of America in 1915. Founded on September 11, 1950, The Nature Conservancy was incorporated as a non-profit organization in the District of Columbia on October 22, 1951 with Dr. Stanley A. Cain (1902-1995) as the first President. At that time, the organization had 2 part-time staff and a total membership of 342. Operating expenses for the first full year (1951-1952) were $1,236.82.

Regional support for the organization began in 1953 when a group of regular members met and petitioned TNC’s Board of Governors to form a local chapter. Known as the Eastern New York Chapter near Albany, New York, a charter for 20 members was granted in October 1954. By 1959, there were 14 chapters. Currently there are more than 50 chapters throughout the United States.

Originally a volunteer based organization, TNC received the first of three Ford Foundation Grants in 1965. These grants, which would eventually total $550,000, provided funding for the organization to transition from a primarily volunteer organization to one with a paid staff. Ninth TNC President (1966-1967), Dr. Charles H. W. Foster (1927-2012), was the first president to receive a salary.

In 2018, operating expenses totaled $911,827.00. TNC Staff located in the United States and around the world totaled more than 3,500. The organization owns nearly 2 million acres of land and holds more than 3 million acres in conservation easements in the US. Membership in the organization numbers more than 1,000,000. Currently, The Nature Conservancy conducts its activities around the world in 72 countries found in North America, the Caribbean, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific.


Dates of ServiceOffice Name HIstorical Information
1950-1951 1st President Dr. Stanley A. Cain (1902-1995) Organization founded September 11, 1950; Incorporated October 22, 1951
1952 2nd President Dr. Herbert C. Hanson (1890-1962)
1953-1956 3rd President Mr. Richard H. Pough (1904-2003) Mianus River Gorge acquired in 1954; 1st charter to Eastern New York Chapter granted October 1954
1956-1957 4th President Dr. Richard H. Goodwin (1910-2007)
1958-1959 5th President Mr. James B. Ross
1960-1962 6th President Mr. Alexander B. Adams (1917-1984)
1962-1964 7th President Mr. George Leroy Collins (1903-2000)
1964-1966 8th President Dr. Richard H. Goodwin (1910-2007) TNC receives $550,000 in Ford Foundation Grants (1965-1968)
1966-1967 9th President Dr. Charles H. W. Foster (1927-2012) 1st paid president
1967-1972 10th President Mr. Thomas W. Richards (1926-2011) Conservation Science Division established 1970
1972-1973 11th President Dr. Everett M. Woodman (1916-2007) (8 months)
1973-1980 12th President Mr. Patrick F. Noonan (1943-) International Program established 1974
1980-1987 13th President Mr. William D. Blair, Jr. (1927-2006) Internation Conservation Program established 1980
1987-1989 14th President Mr. Frank Dennis Boren (1934-)
1990-2000 15th President and 1st CEO, Board Member Dr. John C. Sawhill (1936-2000)
2000-2001 16th President (acting) Mr. W. William Weeks (1953-) (interim)
2001-2007 17th President and 2nd CEO, Board Member Mr. Steven J. McCormick (1951-)
2007-2008 18th President and 3rd CEO (acting) Ms. Stephanie K. Meeks (1964-) (interim)
2008-2019 19th President and 4th CEO, Board Member Mr. Mark R. Tercek (1957-)


223 boxes : (222.5 linear feet)

14 audio visual boxes

1 oversize box

4 oversize folders

1 tube


Gift; The Nature Conservancy; 2004-2015, 2017, 2019

Gift; Boulder Nature Conservancy; 2009

Gift; Richard Pough; 1971


Nature's Keepers by Bill Birchard: 333.7206 B5317nat 2005

Earth's last great places by Noel Grove: 508 G919ear 2003


Collection includes former collections: Richard Pough's Nature Conservancy records (CONS107) and Boulder Nature Conservancy records (CONS262).

Linking Entry Complexity Note

Forms part of: DPL Conservation Collection.


224.5 linear ft. (225 boxes), 14 audio-visual boxes, 1 oversize box, 4 oversize file folders, 1 oversize tube



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Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States