Page 16 - Marist Magazine Winter 2011-2012

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“It is an amazing feeling to handle a letter of
Thomas Jefferson or James Madison, to have a
piece of history within your hands,” says Kevin
Ruiz ’11, who served two internships in the
archives. “As we slowly make the move to digi-
tization of such important documents, fewer
and fewer people will have the opportunity to
know that feeling of amazement. I find myself
one of the lucky few to have been able to do so.”
“My first reaction when I heard that we had
these letters was disbelief mixed with excite-
ment!” says Gianna D’Ambrosca ’12, who in
fall 2011 started her fourth year of work in the
archives. “As a history student I was especial-
ly excited that they are written by historical
figures whom I had studied and admired. To
have something tangible from someone I’d only
read about in books was very cool.”
“For students and visiting researchers to be
able to handle such items is exciting,” says John
Ansley, head of archives and special collections.
“Having the digital copy is nice, but it’s not the
same as holding the real thing. It could never
take the place, for me, of having that tactile
response of handling a Thomas Jefferson letter
or a John Jay letter.”
continued
Letters
Lineage and Legacy:
The Reese Family Papers
P
erhaps it was Frances Stevens Reese’s roots
in the Hudson River Valley that led her to
leave a powerful legacy that would preserve the
beauty of a part of the valley forever. Franny
Reese was a Marist trustee from 1984 until
her death at age 85 in 2003. The fight she led
against the destruction of the valley’s majes-
tic Storm King Mountain set a legal precedent
for people to sue in environmental cases, to
go to court to protect natural assets that they
don’t own such as air, water, and the beauty of
the landscape.Several collections in the Marist
College archives tell the story of her life and
the history of the environmental movement
in the Hudson Valley, in which she played a
major role.
In the early 1960s, utility company
Consolidated Edison wanted to blast away
part of Storm King Mountain to build a large
hydroelectric power plant there. Reese joined a
fledgling group called Scenic Hudson in 1964
and led a 17-year battle to stop the develop-
ment of Storm King and preserve the ecology
and natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands.
Scenic Hudson won. The lawsuit against
Consolidated Edison became a legal landmark
because it established for the first time that
citizens could gain “standing” in federal courts
when they seek to protect public resources
from polluters or developers. For her vision
and determination, Reese has been called one
of the founders of the modern-day environmen-
tal movement in the United States.
Tens of thousands of documents in the
archives’ Environmental History Collections
tell the story of the Storm King case. Among
the documents are the Hudson River Valley
Commission Collection: Records Relating to the
Storm King Case, 1966–1967, and the Scenic
Hudson Collection: Records Relating to the
Storm King Case, 1963–1981.
“It is an amazing feeling to handle a
letter of Thomas Jefferson or James
Madison, to have a piece of history
within your hands,” says Kevin Ruiz
’11. “As we slowly make the move
to digitization of such important
documents, fewer and fewer people
will have the opportunity to know
that feeling of amazement. I find
myself one of the lucky few to have
been able to do so.”