In the 1960s the effects of pollution and environmental damage became more visible. Passionate environmentalists wrote on environmental themes. Vietnam war protests energized people looking for change. President Richard Nixon signed the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson wanted to bring this growing environmental consciousness to the public. Nelson thought that "teach-ins" would be particularly effective. The first Earth Day celebration on April 22nd, 1970 was co-chaired by congressman Paul N. McCloskey and coordinated by Denis Hayes. The first Earth Day was successful nationally. Since 1970, the event has been celebrated worldwide and grown to include issues around climate change.
To learn more, consider the Earth Day Research Starter. Research Starters are sources that help you get caught up on a topic. They can help you learn language specific to a subject area, understand how you can narrow a topic if needed, and learn about the general details of an event or topic. They help you be better prepared for the next step of research, where you'll find or analyze sources for your project. Generally speaking, research starters and other background sources contain information that is too general to be used as evidence for your projects. (Please note, encyclopedias/tertiary sources should NOT be cited in your assignment. Scroll down for primary and secondary sources)
Note: For help with citing primary sources properly, check out this FAQ and be sure to reach out to your instructor with any questions you may have. For help citing interviews such as Meet 'Mr. Earth Day' and Speaking for the Earth (below), click here.
This photograph shows a large crowd watching four Wake Forest University students bury an automobile engine in front of Tribble Hall as part of the first Earth Day observance.
This article, published in Environmental Action in 1995, features reflections by several important environmentalists and Earth Day organizers on progress made between the first Earth Day in 1970 and the article's publication in 1995.
In this article, Olivia Waxman interviews Denis Hayes, the original organizer of Earth Day. Note that this interview has been transcribed and in some ways edited- Hayes' answers are sometimes linked to back up his claims and the interview is introduced with a paragraph written after the interview.
To honor the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, this magazine article recounts how the holiday was created with a particular focus on Denis Hayes and how the day has evolved to include climate change as a major theme.
This newspaper article recounts how Earth Day began and follows Hayes' work in the years since the first Earth Day.
This article discusses the history behind Earth Day and the evolution of environmental activism.
This article provides an overview of Earth Day and discusses the movement's successes over the past 50 years.