Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Voices from the Past: Thomas Ambrose (1921)

The following piece was the preface to a paper presented by Thomas Ambrose entitled "Our Remote Ancestors—The Fishes," given at one of my alma maters, the University of Illinois, in 1921. Ambrose was Vice President of the Izaak Walton League. It's very cool to get a history like this written only two years after the formation of this important organization.

A Short History of the Izaac Walton League
by Thomas Ambrose

Before reading the paper announced upon the program, I have been asked to outline the movement known as the Izaak Walton League of America, an organization which I have the honor to represent, though inadequately, at this meeting.

In January, 1922, not yet three years ago, fifty-four Outdoorsmen met at the Chicago Athletic Club, to consider what might be done to save what was left of the vanishing wild life of America, and to curb the rape of our woods and waters.

It was decided that the only remedy lay in a nation wide movement to awaken the national conscience to the necessity for conservation.

We gave the organization the name of Izaak Walton, not because he was one of the most accomplished anglers of his day, but because his philosophy of the outdoors shows him to have been a true conservationist. His best-known work, The Compleat Angler, has passed through more than one hundred editions and will live as long as English literature.

To carry on this campaign of education we, in July 1922 founded the magazine, Outdoor America, which is the property of the League. We printed 20,000 copies of the first number which consisted of 32 pages, without illustrations. The forth-coming December issue will consist of 110,000 copies of 84 pages—of which 60,000 copies go to members of the League, about 20,000 to subscribers who are not members, the remainder to news-stands, and for sample copies.

Any of you who are not subscribers are invited to write for a free copy of the December number to League Headquarters, 536 Lake Shore Drive, Chicago. After reading it, should you be of opinion that the magazine has ethical as well as literary value we would be glad to have you subscribe for it regularly for the school library. The boys and girls will read it avidly, and from it learn valuable lessons in citizenship: conservation of our natural resources, obedience to the laws, respect for the rights of others. We aim to make better Americans as well as a better America.

No elective officer of the League is paid a salary, and no contributor to the magazine, author or artist, is under pay. They give freely of their time, talents and labor to help save Outdoor America. All profits from publication go into the treasury of the League.

Among the nationally-famed writers who contribute without pay are Dr. Henry Van Dyke, James Oliver Curwood, Stewart Edward White, Harold Bell Wright, Dr. David Starr Jordan, Harold T. Pulsifer, Hal G. Evarts, Gene Stratton-Porter, Robert W. Chambers, Irvin S. Cobb, Archibald Rutlcdge, Richard Le Gallienne, B. F. Wilder, "El Comancho," Zane Grey, Robert H. Davis, Herbert Hoover, Theodore Dreiser, Ozark Ripley, Judge Landis, Judge Dickinson, and many others.

Among artists who illustrate our magazine without pay are Frank B. Hoffman, W. H. D. Koerner, Lee Sturges, Rollin Kirby, Frank Stick, Wm. Schmedtgen, Sidney Smith, Everett Lowry, Bruno Ertz, Chas. Livingston Bull, Audubon Tyler, and many others.

The subscription is $1.00 per annum for a magazine which costs us $1.82 cents to print. We could not do this but for the generosity of our contributors, and material aid given us by public-spirited men in Chicago and other cities of the middle west who have contributed outright more than $60,000 to help the cause along.

Among our five Vice-presidents are Drs. Henry Van Dyke and David Starr Jordan, and among our fifty-one National Directors are Professor Shimek of the University of Iowa and Professors Forbes and Ward of the University of Illinois.

Our Second National Convention was attended by 400 delegates from nineteen states...

-- Dr. Todd

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