George Marshall (conservationist)

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For other people named George Marshall, see George Marshall (disambiguation).

George Marshall (February 11, 1904 – May 15, 2000) was an American economist, political activist, and conservationist. He was an early leader of The Wilderness Society and later the Sierra Club.

Early life and education[edit]

Marshall was the son of Louis Marshall, noted constitutional lawyer and co-founder of the American Jewish Committee and Florence Lowenstein. He grew up with his sister Ruth, and brothers James and Bob in Manhattan. All four children attended Felix Adler's Ethical Culture School. George Marshall continued his education at Columbia University, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees. This was followed with doctoral studies and a PhD in economics from the Brookings Institution, in 1930. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "The Machinists' Union: A Study in Institutional Development".[citation needed]


From 1934-37, Marshall worked as an economist for the consumer division of the National Recovery Administration under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.[1]

Political activist[edit]

He served as chairman of the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties and the Civil Rights Congress,[2] a leading leftist group that was active early the United States civil rights movement, providing leadership and funding; in the late 1940s and early 1950s he worked with Paul Robeson, Dashiell Hammett and William L. Patterson on litigation protecting the rights of African-Americans and American communists. Marshall was called before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, where he was cited for Contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over records from the National Federation for Constitutional Liberties. Convicted, he served three months in a federal prison in 1950.[3]


Marshall had a lifelong dedication to conservationism. He spent his childhood summers at Knollwood, his father's Great Camp on the shores of Lower Saranac Lake; with his brother Bob Marshall he climbed all 46 Adirondack High Peaks (mountains taller than 4,000 feet), an accomplishment that made him a founding membership in the "46ers".

After his brother's early death at age 38 in 1939, Marshall became a trustee of the Robert Marshall Wilderness Fund, now known as the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation, which supported conservation activities especially of The Wilderness Society, founded by his brother.

George Marshall made major contributions to The Wilderness Society, and then the Sierra Club, for more than 50 years. He edited The Wilderness Society's magazine, The Living Wilderness from 1957–61, and served as president of that organization from 1971-72. Marshall served on the board of directors of the Sierra Club from 1959–68, and later as "director, president, and vice chairman".[1]

Another of George Marshall's contributions was to edit his brother, Bob's, notebooks on the Alaskan wilderness, published as Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range, now in its third edition.

Later life[edit]

Marshall moved to London until late in his life. He returned to New York in 1993, following the death of his wife, Elisabeth Dublin. He died at age 96 on May 15, 2000, in Nyack, NY.


  • Marshall, Robert. 2005 [1956] Alaska Wilderness: Exploring the Central Brooks Range, ed. George Marshall. 3rd ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.


  1. ^ a b "Obituaries: George Marshall". Columbia College Today. May 2001. Retrieved November 26, 2009.
  2. ^ New York Times, "George Marshall, 96, Pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement" [obituary], June 18, 2000.
  3. ^ New York Times, June 18, 2000.