Marshall, Robert, 1901-1939

Alternative names
Birth 1901-01-02
Death 1939-11-11

Biographical notes:

Forester and explorer; graduate of New York State College of Forestry, 1924.

From the description of Papers, 1923-1954. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155478351

Civil servant in the U.S. Forest Service.

From the description of Papers, 1933. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155524092

Wilderness advocate and forester Robert Marshall was born in New York Jan. 2, 1901. Graduating from the College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1924, he went on to earn a master's degree at Harvard in 1925, and a doctorate at the Johns Hopkins Laboratory of Plant Physiology in 1930. Marshall began his career with the U.S. Forest Service in 1925. In 1933 he became head forester of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and in 1937, Chief of the Division of Recreation and Lands for the U.S. Forest Service. He authored several books, influential articles and government reports on wilderness and forestry. He was a long-distance wilderness hiker and outspoken supporter of the need to preserve wilderness. He was a founding member of and major financial contributor to the Wilderness Society. The Bob Marshall Wilderness (1,000,000 acres) in Montana was named in his honor. He died in his sleep Nov. 11, 1939 at age 38. [From: "Arctic Village," 1991, UAF Press.].

From the description of Robert Marshall photograph collection, 1929. [graphic]. (Alaska State Library). WorldCat record id: 50406990

Director of Forestry for the U.S. Office of Indian Affairs, Director of U.S. Forest Service Division of Recreation and Lands, co-founder of The Wilderness Society.

From the description of Robert Marshall papers, 1908-1939. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 214932393


Robert Marshall, forester and environmentalist, was born in New York on January 2, 1901. The son of Louis Marshall, a constitutional lawyer and philanthropist, Robert Marshall developed an early interest in mountains, the outdoors, and activism. After graduating from the Ethical Culture School in New York, he attended Columbia College, the New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse, and then Harvard University. From 1925-1928 he worked at the United States Forestry Service's Northern Rocky Mountain Forest Experiment Station in Missoula, Montana returning to school in 1928 at Johns Hopkins University to earn a Ph.D. in Plant Physiology.

Marshall traveled to Alaska in the summer of 1929 exploring the basin of the Koyukuk River in the Central Brooks Range. After receiving his doctorate in 1934, he built a log cabin near an arctic village, Wiseman Alaska, which was his base of operations during his 13 month exploration of the northern Koyukuk region. He returned to Alaska in 1938 to explore and map the North Fork of the Koyukuk and Upper Anaktuvuk Rivers, and again in 1939 to complete mapping the Koyukuk territory. He was the first person to map much of the area.

From 1933 to 1937 Marshall served as Director of Forestry for the Office of Indian Affairs. During this period Marshall, along with Benton MacKaye, Aldo Leopold and others, established the Wilderness Society, an organization dedicated to preserving the wilderness in its unspoiled state. In 1937 Marshall was made chief of the new Forest Service Division of Recreation and Lands. Marshall died suddenly of a heart attack in 1939 at 38 years of age.

From the guide to the Robert Marshall Papers, 1908-1939, (The Bancroft Library.)


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Ark ID:


  • Forestry schools and education
  • Geology--Photographs
  • Forests and forestry
  • New Deal, 1933-1939
  • Forest policy
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Prospecting
  • Glaciers--Photographs


  • Authors
  • Explorers
  • Forester


  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Quetico-Superior Area (as recorded)
  • Wiseman (Alaska) (as recorded)
  • Alaska--Koyukuk River Valley (as recorded)
  • Alaska (as recorded)
  • Wiseman (Alaska) (as recorded)
  • Koyukuk River (Alaska) (as recorded)
  • Cranberry Lake (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • Adirondack Mountains (N.Y.) (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • Koyukuk River Valley (Alaska) (as recorded)
  • Koyukuk River (Alaska) (as recorded)