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Ward Shepard papers

Call Number: MS 746

Scope and Contents

The Ward Shepard Papers consist of his correspondence and writings, as well as some writings of others. These papers were discovered among the John Collier Papers when the collection was processed. They represent only a small segment of the varied life and career of Ward Shepard.

The papers have been arranged in three series. Series I, CORRESPONDENCE, is largely that of Shepard to Collier regarding his progress on an unpublished book, The Living Whole.

Series II, WRITINGS, is divided into unpublished and published work. Among the unpublished materials are articles dealing with evolution, ecology and other scientific subjects; drafts and outlines for chapters ofThe Living Whole; memoranda, prepared during Shepard's years in government service (1943-1950); and notes on various subjects including energy, evolution, nature, philosophy, psychology, science and teleology. The final section of unpublished material contains a number of unidentified and undated papers on a variety of topics. These appear to be proposed articles or addresses written by Shepard after his retirement. The published material consists of reprints of articles and book reviews published by Shepard in various scientific magazines.

Series III, WRITINGS OF OTHERS, contains articles and writings by John Collier, Laura Thompson and others in the field of sociology and soil conservation.


  • 1909-1959


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

These papers originally formed a portion of the John Collier Papers in the Yale University Library, and were separated when the Collier Papers were processed.


Arranged in three series: I. Correspondence, 1930-1959. II. Writings, 1934-1957. III. Writings of Others, 1909-1956.


2 Linear Feet (5 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


Correspondence, writings and a few essays by others on ecology, Indians, and Darwinism. The main portion of the correspondence (1943-1958) is with John Collier on the subject of Shepard's last book, The Living Whole. His writings reflect interests in the environment and related scientific subjects, and the papers include both published and unpublished works.

Biographical / Historical

Ward Shepard was born in Hicksville, Ohio, in 1887. He graduated from Harvard College in 1910 and received his master's degree from the Harvard Forest School in 1913. He married Jean Francis Duer Key on 12 October 1918. From 1921 to 1927 Shepard worked for the United States Forest Service as a forest ranger and a forest supervisor in the Western National Forests. While working for the Forest Service, he contributed his own knowledge to the planning of a nation-wide federal forest research program.

In 1932, Ward Shepard was appointed a fellow of the Carl Schurz Memorial Foundation. This afforded him the opportunity to make an extensive study of forestry practices, policies and legislation in central Europe. Upon his return to the United States, in 1933, Shepard became an economic advisor to John Collier, the U.S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs. During his three years with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Shepard, like Collier, supported a policy of fair treatment of the Indians. He helped draft the Wheeler-Howard Indian Reorganization Act while on the Bureau's staff. Like many others interested in Indian reform, he hoped that this act would change past concepts of Indian administration and develop a new program of Indian land conservation and rehabilitation designed to safeguard Indian lands for Indian agriculture, livestock raising and forestry.

On 1 May 1936, President James B. Conant of Harvard University named Ward Shepard director of the Harvard Forest School. In this capacity, Shepard undertook the strengthening and expansion of forestry education at Harvard. The school trained students in the biological aspects of forestry and also provided knowledge in the more complex economic, legislative and financial areas of forestry for those conservationists interested in implementing programs to end the wholesale liquidation of forests in the United States.

After Shepard completed his work at Harvard, he returned to Washington in 1939 as a special advisor on forest policy for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1940, he rejoined the Office of Indian Affairs as an advisor on natural resources development. He continued to be an outspoken advocate of the Soil Conservation Service. To dramatize the need for preserving farmland, he wrote the book, Food or Famine; The Challenge of Erosion, in 1945.

Towards the end of his life, Shepard became increasingly involved in scientific and philosophical writing. At the time of his death, in 1959, he was working on a book, The Living Whole, which dealt with Darwin and evolutionary theory. Ward Shepard died on his farm in Oakton, Virginia, on 13 September 1959.

Guide to the Ward Shepard Papers
Under Revision
compiled by Mary C. LaFogg
January 1977
Description rules
Finding Aid Created In Accordance With Manuscripts And Archives Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

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