Osborn Oral History Project

Preserve barnFairfield Osbornosborn preserve dedication ceremonybridge to Marjory Osborn Facilities

Fairfield Osborn, Jr. (1887- 1969) was known for his 1948 publication, "Our Plundered Planet," a prescient and devastating critique of human stewardship of earth's natural resources that was translated in 13 languages and read by millions worldwide. In the 1950s, Fairfield Osborn's daughter and son-in-law, Joan and William Roth, purchased lands on Sonoma Mountain as a summer retreat for their family. Shortly after Fairfield Osborn's death in 1969, they donated 200 acres to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to honor his life-long love of wild places and legacy in conservation. In 1997, TNC donated the Preserve to Sonoma State University, maintaining a conservation easement over the property for educational, research, and conservation. In 2004, the Roths doubled the size of the Preserve with an additional 190-acre donation managed under a conservation easement with the Sonoma County Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District. The oral history project was focused on gaining a better understanding of the history of land management and Preserve development.

Project Lead(s): Steve Estes; Claudia Luke

Dates: Spring 2013

Scholarship: Service-learning

Course(s): History 500: The Art & Craft of History  

Funding: none

Faculty:  Steve Estes, History Department

Students: Alexander E. Porter, Megan Wells, Jocoya Fox-Jones, Rachel Higgins, Daniel Dunn, Chris Wendt

Partners: Center for Environmental Inquiry; History Department; Donors and Faculty Affiliated with Osborn Preserve

Methods: During Spring semester 2013, graduate students in History 500 conducted interviews with members of the Roth family and previous managers of the Preserve (Nature Conservancy and SSU Faculty). Each interviewee was asked a standard suite of questions. Audio recordings were made of each interview and later transcribed by students.

Interview Data - Transcripts and audio from interviews are available at Osborn Land Use & Cultural Data. Interviewees were William Roth, Joan Roth, Maggie Best (daughter), Lynn Lozier (TNC), Larry Serpa (TNC), Rocky Rohwedder (SSU), and Nathan Rank (SSU). Maggie Best declined to have interview transcript included.