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Records of the Florida Defenders of the Environment

Identifier: Ms 204

Scope and Content

This collection is comprised of correspondence, news clippings, journal articles, court testimony, speeches, government reports, financial records, proposed legislation, and other records created or collected by FDE over several decades. Although FDE was established in 1969, some of the documents predate the group and the collection spans 1943 to 1994. The bulk of the materials, however, date from 1969 to 1994. The collection is divided into two groups: Accession I and Accession II.

Accession I is comprised of two series of records: Newspaper Clipping files and Correspondence and General files. The majority of these materials, which date from 1962 to 1992, pertain to the Cross Florida Barge Canal, the Ocklawaha River, FDE meetings, and various environmental issues in Florida. Marjorie Carr is the primary correspondent.

Accession II is arranged into several series including: Cross Florida Barge Canal (CFBC) Files, Non-CFBC Correspondence and Issue Files, Reading Files, News Clippings, Committee Files, Meetings, Administrative Files, Conferences, Photographs, and Publications and Reports. Although the Cross Florida Barge Canal is the primary topic covered by the materials, other related topics include the Rodman Reservoir, the Everglades, conservation of natural resources, the Florida Panther and wildlife conservation, water management, planned development, and the Ocklawaha, Withlacoochee and other central Florida rivers.

Marjorie Carr is the primary correspondent, but other individuals include Nathaniel Reed, Bill Partington, Archie Carr, Claude Pepper, Lawton Chiles, Bob Graham, and Buddy MacKay, among others. A number of organizations and government agencies are represented, including the Canal Authority, the Environmental Service Center, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the Environmental Defense Fund. In addition to documents created by other environmental and conservation groups, there is a large amount of letters, reports and testimony by expert scientists and economists. The records of the Alachua Audubon Society, found in the Cross Florida Barge Canal (CFBC) series, are of particular interest because they document the issues and discussions that led to the establishment of FDE.

Most of the records series are arranged alphabetically by folder title. The Correspondence and General Files series in Accession I, and the News Clippings series in both Accessions I and II are primarily arranged chronologically.


  • Creation: 1943-1994
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1969-1994



The collection is open for research.

Biographical/Historical Note

The Florida Defenders of the Environment (FDE) was established in 1969 in Gainesville by Marjorie Harris Carr, Bill Partington, John Couse, and other scientists, economists, and lawyers who were concerned about the Florida ecosystem. It was the successor to an earlier group known as the Alachua Audubon Society. The organization's primary focus was to stop the construction of the Cross Florida Barge Canal, which was designed to cut across the middle of the state in order to improve transportation of goods across Florida. The canal had been planned since the early 1930s and under construction since 1964. In creating the canal, the state of Florida planned to flood parts of the Ocklawaha River basin and parts of the surrounding region. The FDE and several other environmental groups argued that the environmental effects of such a canal would have been disastrous. Through exhaustive campaigns, scientific and economic studies, and volunteer work from many individuals, the organizations successfully stopped the construction of the canal in 1971. The canal was officially de-authorized by the federal government in 1990 and by Florida in 1991.

Following the de-authorization of the canal, the organization has continued to be a leading environmental advocacy group. They are largely credited with creating the Cross Florida Greenway, a recreation and conservation area made up of much of the land originally designated for the Cross Florida Barge Canal. The Greenway was renamed the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway in 1998. The group still closely monitors the condition of the Ocklawaha River, and also works to repair the damage done by earlier canal construction. The organization also actively works on other environmental issues in Florida, including the Everglades, wildlife protection, and sustainable growth and development. For more information, see the FDE web site:

Marjorie Carr (1915-1998) served as president of FDE for approximately thirty years. She held a Master's in Zoology from the University of Florida and was married to environmental scientist, Archie Carr. The FDE web site also maintains pages providing biographical information on Marjorie Carr.


35 Linear feet (85 boxes)

Language of Materials



Documents of the Florida Defenders of the Environment, the majority of which deal with the fight to de-authorize the Cross Florida Barge Canal project.

Physical Location

University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Alternate Form of Material

Digital reproductions of items in this collection are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

Related Material

UF holds several archival collections that are related to environmental issues in Florida, including the Archie Carr Papers, the Nathaniel Reed Papers, and the records of the Florida Chapter of the Sierra Club. In addition, there are several political collections that contain relevant information, including the papers of Bob Graham, Charles Bennett, Spessard Holland and George Smathers.

Processing Notes

The Records of the Florida Defenders of the Environment were received and processed as separate groups: Accession I and Accession II. Although the records in Accession I had been processed and made available to researchers several years earlier, the records in Accession II were not fully processed until 2006.

A Guide to the Records of the Florida Defenders of the Environment
Finding aid created by John Nemmers, Alexandra Rudnick and Stephen Jackson
March 2007
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America