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Newton Bishop Drury Oral History Interview, Part IV-VI

Oral History Interview with
Newton Bishop Drury

Director, National Park Service, 1940-51.

Berkeley, California
University of California
University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office

1972 by The Regents of the University of California

Part IV, Part V and Part VI

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Newton Bishop Drury Parts]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview donated to the Harry S. Truman Library. The reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word, although some editing was done.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the oral history interview.

All uses of this manuscript are covered by a legal agreement between the Regents of the University of California and Newton B. Drury, dated October 18, 1972. The manuscript is thereby made available for research purposes. All literary rights in the manuscript, including the right to publish, are reserved to The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley. No part of the manuscript may be quoted for publication without the written permission of the Director of The Bancroft Library of the University of California at Berkeley.

Requests for permission to quote for publication should be addressed to the Regional Oral History Office, 486 Library, and should include identification of the specific passages to be quoted, anticipated use of the passages, and identification of the user.The legal agreement with Newton B. Drury requires that he be notified of the request and allowed thirty days in which to respond.

Opened 1972
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | Additional Newton Bishop Drury Parts]


Oral History Interview with
Newton Bishop Drury


Berkeley, California
University of California
University of California Bancroft Library/Berkeley
Regional Oral History Office

1972 by The Regents of the University of California

Part IV






June 3, 1963




(Recorded June 6, 1963)

First World Conference on National Parks

FRY: Mr. Drury, would you like to tell us something about the First World Congress on National Parks that took place in Seattle last year? [1962]

DRURY: In the few minutes that I have I'm afraid I can't do justice to it because it covered many nations and many topics. I might say that it was quite an interesting and inspiring meeting. It was held primarily under the auspices of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, whose headquarters I had the opportunity to visit shortly after the Seattle session near Lausanne in Switzerland.

FRY: This was co-sponsored by UNESCO and FAO? United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and Food and Agricultural Organization.)

DRURY: Yes, under their general sponsorship, and the National Park Service, and the spadework was done rather largely by the Conservation Associates, Inc., of which George Collins is the president and Mrs. Doris N. Leonard is the secretary. Mr. Collins was secretary-general of the conference and organized it admirably. Mrs. Leonard as his assistant did a great deal of the detail work which was most extensive.

I had the honor of presiding at one session, the session on Tuesday, July 3rd, 1962. The general topic was that of national parks and equivalent reserves, particularly with respect to their scientific, economic and cultural values.

FRY: Good, I wanted to ask you about that. Please go ahead and explain.


DRURY: Well my outstanding experience there, aside from the interest of the diversified panelists, was that for the first time in my public speaking career I found it necessary to wear my glasses when reading my notes. [Chuckles] The auditorium was dark and there were so many foreign names that required very close scrutiny before they were pronounced that I finally succumbed and put my glasses on.

FRY: I'd like to insert here that in addition to the section you were leading, Section Two, there were four other sections. One was "Purposes, Principles and Policies of National Parks;" another was "Optimum Use of National Parks;" another one was "Administration of National Parks;" and the final one was "International Coordination of Parks." So we can see which slice of the pie you had, then, in discussing the scientific, economic, and cultural values. The article in American Forests (Richard H. Pough, "The First World Congress on National Parks," American Forests.  August 1962, pp. 36-40.) brought out that the main concern became economic values. Did you think this was true?

DRURY: That unquestionably was true, and the interesting part of it was that the representatives from these many countries, all of whom were just as idealistic as we tried to be, also shared our frustration because of the constant inroads of commercial pressures on natural areas. The note that ran through the conference was one of hopefulness that something could be done to hold some of the face of nature free from the impact of modern economic activity, and if there was one theme more than any other that was dominant, it was the question of the management of wildlife. It seemed to me that on


DRURY: that phase, particularly with respect to the representatives from Africa, there was quite a pronounced difference of point of view. The concept of wild animals as food supply, which is related to the population explosion and the fact that a large percentage of the people of the world are undernourished, led to some rather interesting and heated debate as to the extent to which wild animals could or should be protected.

It's the same problem that has always come up, but it hasn’t been an issue in this country as yet because of our abundant resources. I can remember many years ago the Inter-American Conference on National Parks and Reservations at which I spoke in Denver, Colorado, in the late forties. One of the representatives from Peru, I think it was, asked what you would do if you had to choose between preserving an area's superlative scenery and natural resources intact and seeing people in the surrounding country starving to death for lack of consumption of those resources. All I could say was that I approached the answer to that question with great humility because I was fortunate to be in a country where we still weren't faced with that problem and had a great deal of wild land which for many generations at least we hoped we could preserve, and we hoped we would never have to face that alternative.

FRY: Did they mention any trend toward developing domesticated animal production in these countries?

DRURY: This was just a sort of a side issue that emerged every now and then. No, there was not much talk about the culture of domestic animals, and that wasn't the primary theme, of course.

One of the pleasures of this conference was that a great many of my old colleagues in the National Park Service were there--for instance, Horace Albright,


DRURY: Lawrence C. Merriam, and Dr. George Ruhle, who was particularly effective, I thought. He was for many years a naturalist in the national parks, and now represents the Service in international affairs. And Victor Cahalane, who was our head man on wildlife, and of course Director Conrad Wirth of the National Park Service. The Sierra Club bulletin had a good summary of the session at which I presided.

FRY: I was wondering if you had anything to tell us about what went on in the halls and hotel rooms outside the regular conference sessions in Seattle?

DRURY: Well, I think, as is always true in the case of conventions, those sessions were more valuable than the formal sessions.

One thing that struck me about everybody at that conference was the faithfulness with which they attended the general sessions. Apparently all of those representatives, and they were highly