We're observing Earth Day today with this video documenting a DuPont river survey conducted at the Cuyahoga River in Ohio around 1970, not long after the river infamously caught fire in June 1969.
Though decades of industrial waste dumping had caused the river to burn over a dozen times in years prior, the coverage of the 1969 fire in Time magazine and other national news outlets came at a crucial point for a growing environmentalist movement in the United States, and served as both a real crisis and a symbol that rallied people in a call for change.
The fire is generally credited as being one of the inciting events that led to not only the founding of Earth Day, but also the creation of an array of environmental protection legislative acts, including the Clean Water Act, Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, and the creation of the federal Environmental Protection Agency, as well as local efforts by the newly created Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to remediate pollution in the river, investigate the sources of pollution, and prevent further damage.
This film is part of Hagley Library’s collection of William Henry Radebaugh films and scripts (Accession 1975.412). Radebaugh (1909-1996), was a public relations executive at the DuPont Company for over twenty years. He wrote, produced and directed many films about the company during his tenure there and for several years after his retirement.
Several of the films in this collection address safety in the plants and in the use of DuPont products. Also included are four compilation reels of short news segments about different products, plants and services of the DuPont Company. There are also films about specific DuPont plants and laboratories including the Haskell Laboratory, the Spruance plant in Richmond, Va.; the Tecumseh plant in Tecumseh, Kansas, the Washington plant in Washington, West Virginia and the twenty fifth anniversary of the Victoria, Texas plant.
To view more material from this collection online now, click here to visit its page in our Digital Archive.