Bell Travel Grants

The Forest History Society annually offers a number of competitive Alfred D. Bell Jr., Travel Grants to support travel and lodging expenses of up to $950.00 incurred by researchers conducting in-depth studies at the Society's Alvin J. Huss Archives and Carl A. Weyerhaeuser Library. FHS established the award to honor the memory of wholesale lumberman, forest industry editor, and former FHS vice president Alfred D. Bell Jr., who died in 1985.

Award Details

The Forest History Society awards several Bell Travel Grants each year to researchers who use FHS resources to support their work. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, with awards going to persons whose research topics are well covered in the FHS library and archives. Preference is given to young scholars per the wishes of the Bell family.

To apply for a Bell Travel Grant, submit an application (PDF) and resume to:

Bell Travel Grants
Forest History Society
701 William Vickers Ave.
Durham, NC 27701

For further information, or to submit an application via email, contact: Eben Lehman.

Recent Recipients

Recent winners of the Bell Travel Grant award include several graduate students working on doctoral dissertations and professors of history pursuing research on a variety of environmental topics:

Charlotte Leib is in the Master of Landscape Architecture program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. At FHS she accessed a number of collections critical to her research into the ways in which trees and their representation in text and image shifted popular understandings of the American forest, and how these representations of the wilderness contributed to movements toward preservation and conservation in the latter half of the 19th century.

Will Mundhenke, a graduate student at the University of South Carolina and a park guide with the National Park Service, conducted research on the history of El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico. His work examines the role played by the U.S. Forest Service in promoting recreation, American tourism, and notions of Edenic landscape in the Caribbean tropics.

David Benac, an associate professor of history at Western Michigan University, conducted research for his manuscript, "Town for Sale: Oregon's Timber Industry Heritage." He gathered information on representations of timber heritage by corporate entities, unions, and social organizations in advertising/publicity, art, music, folklore, and festivals, with a special focus on thirteen communities that serve as his case studies.

Jon Hazlett is a Ph.D. candidate at Case Western Reserve University whose dissertation examines the history of recycling as a business initiative within various industries. At FHS he focused on conservation efforts within the lumber and paper industry and how they influenced early recycling movements.

Jameson Karns, a doctoral student at the University of California-Berkeley in the History of Science Program, conducted research on the history of fire science. Karns examined the notebooks and photographs of Harold Weaver, an American forester best known for his mid-twentieth century work on prescribed burning and a pioneer in the fire science field. This research will also be shared with several environmental scientists, foresters, and fire scientists, who will apply the findings to current and ongoing studies.

William Bryan, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry at Emory University is working on a book manuscript, entitled "Nature and the New South: Promoting 'Permanent' Uses of Resources in a Developing Region, 1865-1930." It traces how business leaders worked to address resource depletion in the late-19th and early-20th centuries in ways that presaged strategies of sustainable development that emerged decades later. It also reframes the history of the post­-Civil War South by showing how conflicts over natural resources shaped Southern economic development.

Nicole Cox, a doctoral candidate in history at the University of Florida whose dissertation examines the history of the wood-preservation industry. She was especially interested in creosote and experiments on its use by federal agencies. FHS also has quite a number of historic photographs related to wood preservation processes.

Joe Giacomelli, a Ph.D. candidate in history at Cornell University studying how scientists and others understood climate during the 19th century. He was interested in the training of foresters, how they integrated fields such as hydrology and meteorology into their work, afforestation as a means of modifying climate, and how predominant viewpoints about climate changed in the early 20th century.

Chris Eklund is a doctoral candidate in history at Auburn University whose dissertation explores the connections between private individuals, government entities, and non-governmental organizations in the creation of parklands throughout the American South. Land acquisitions and transfers are a frequent topic in a number of FHS archival collections and oral history interviews.

Allison Bryant, a student at Yale College, worked on her senior thesis comparing the public relations efforts of the early U.S. Forest Service with those of the National Park Service. She found the US Forest Service newspaper clipping files particularly helpful for evidence of the agency’s early attempts to educate the public about its mission. She was surprise d to find how accurately some works of fiction in the Forests in Fiction Collection reflected the attitudes encountered by early forest rangers in the West.

Dr. Jonathan Beever, a graduate student in philosophy at Purdue University, used FHS collections to examine cross-currents between environmental philosophy in Europe and America. While at FHS he looked for evidence of influences on American foresters, including Aldo Leopold, who traveled to Germany during the mid-1930s on trips sponsored by the Oberlaender Trust. He examined the papers of Clarence Forsling and Leon Kneipp as well as publications from the era.

Devon McCurdy, a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Washington, examined the relationships between capitalism, the state, and the natural world in the rural Pacific Northwest. He explored the tensions between environmentalists and the forest products industry in the region during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, and while at FHS used the records of the National Forest Products Association as well as company files and the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters History Collection.

Sarah Mittlefehldt, assistant professor of Environmental Studies & Natural Resource Management at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vermont, explored the history of wood-to-energy initiatives in the late twentieth century. Since the OPEC oil embargo in 1973, the U.S. has sought to develop domestic sources of energy including petroleum, wind, solar, and hydropower. Her research looks at debates around one of the renewable fuel sources-woody biomass-and examines the political landscape in which these debates took place.

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