George Mason University: Mason Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center receives materials donated from Appalachian Trail Conservancy

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has made the largest ever donation of materials to George Mason University Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC).

More than 850 linear feet of unprocessed materials that document the growth of the Appalachian Trail from a small confederation in 1925 to a volunteer-centered, fully staffed nonprofit with a unique mission and international support. The 2,194.3-mile trail spans the East Coast from Maine to Georgia.

“The Libraries is pleased to enter this partnership with the ATC and become the home of this remarkable collection—a significant cultural heritage collection, with great promise for research and scholarship,” said Dean of Libraries and University Librarian John Zenelis. “We are committed to ensuring that best curatorial and archival practices are applied in managing both the physical materials—and eventually digital aspects—of the collection.”

The collection includes maps, letters, trail shelter logs, legal documents, publications, internal corporate documents, and images, as well as rail ephemera, such as patches, signs, and more.

“Each of these items helps tell the story of the vision that set the construction of the trail in motion, the thousands of volunteers and advocates who helped make the trail a reality, and the continued efforts to help ensure the trail continues to benefit us all for generations to come,” said Conservancy President and CEO Sandra Marra.

The ATC materials will provide scholars the opportunity to study a wide variety of topics associated with 20th century U.S. history, including the conservation movement, economic developments, indigenous people, race relations, gender ideology and technological advances.

“Once we have processed, arranged, and described the materials, we look forward to welcoming students and researchers to examine them,” said Lynn Eaton, director of SCRC. “One of SCRC’s main tenets is supporting the research and teaching mission of the university, and this collection will be no exception.”

More than two dozen books and dissertations were derived from the archives while they were in the care of the ATC.

As the centennial of the ATC approaches, Mason Libraries is investigating opportunities to support the organization and preservation of these unique and historically important items.