Environmental History

I came to environmental history by way of agricultural history and by just being out on the land, learning to see and interpret natural and human history wherever I happened to exploring or working. It's a relatively new field that came about during the 1940s as historians and a first generation of ecologists and environmentalists began to work together to discover the complex relationships of man to land, sea, atmosphere, and forests over time. This annotated list of resources contains some of the important texts and organizations that have I have found very useful in my own research. If you want to add some of your own, please contact me with your suggestions.

American Environmental History: An Introduction. Carolyn Merchant. (Columbia University Press, 2007).
  • This is what it says it is - an introduction to American EH.  Note that American EH does have certain distinctions compared EH in Europe or the UK. The book also contains useful glossaries (terms and historical events/eras) as well as many resources.
Nature's Economy: A History of Ecological Ideas. Donald Worster. (Cambridge University Press, 1994).
  • Worster is considered one of the founders of American EH and this book provides a hefty dose of economic, evolutionary, ethics, and environmental theory to help explain how we came to think the way we do about environment and its complex issues.
Encountering the Past in Nature: Essays in Environmental History. Timo Myllyntaus and Mikko Saikku. (Ohio University Press, 1999).   
  • This small book contains a collection of essays written by northern European researchers and reflects the distinct difference between European and North American topics and interpretations among environmental historians. One compelling difference, which I find useful for my own work in landscape history, is the idea that humanity has shaped environments for a very long time and that man cannot be thought of as apart or separate from nature.  

The Landscape of History: How Historians Map the Past. John Lewis Gaddis. (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • A small but provocative book that argues that  environmental historians are more akin to the natural sciences, comfortable with analysis, data sets, complex systems thinking, etc. I love his romps through chaos theory, complex systems analysis, and interdependency among fields of inquiry.
An Environmental History of the Middle Ages: The Crucible of Nature. John Aberth. (Routledge Publishing, 2013)
  • The Middle Ages of Europe were the formative years of the Western ideas about nature. I am very interested connecting conservation philosophies with their earliest roots, and this excellent research does that. Of course I had to go to Spain to see for myself (Spring 2016).

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