Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Arbor day from the Institutional Archives

From the Institutional Archives:
JUNE 27, 1949

“Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly:
Section 1. The last Friday in April of each year is designated as Arbor and Bird Day, to be observed throughout the State as a day for planting trees, shrubs and vines about the homes and along the highways and about public grounds within this State, and for holding appropriate exercises in the public schools and elsewhere to show the value of trees and birds and the necessity of their protection, thus contributing to the comforts and attractions of our State.”
This law enacted by the 66th General Assembly was signed into law on June 27, 1949, by Governor Adlai E. Stevenson.

Friday, April 21, 1950

“Planting of six Douglas firs by Omaha’s Junior Foresters at World War II Memorial Park Friday morning started Omaha’s observance of Arbor Day…Acceptances came from Dr. Clarence S. Godshalk, director of the Morton Arboretum at Lisle, Ill…A guest with Dr. Godshalk was Mrs. Raymond Watts, educational director of the Morton Arboretum. Two of the trees were dedicated to J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day, and his son, the late Joy Morton. One was dedicated to Mrs. Jean Morton Cudahy, Joy Morton’s daughter, who is chairman of the board of trustees of the Morton Arboretum, and one was for Dr. Godshalk…City and County offices and banks will be closed for the official Arbor Day observance Saturday” [J. Sterling Morton’s birthday – the official Arbor Day in Nebraska]. -- Omaha World-Herald.

The above historical items came to my attention, while categorizing piles of institutional correspondence (1922-1965) that three assiduous volunteers and I have been sorting, once a week, for the past year. It was refreshing to run across a letter from the Governor of the State of Illinois – whom we can be proud of – who signed the law that officially established Arbor Day as a holiday in Illinois. It also seems fitting to recall that in 1950 Clarence Godshalk, the first director of The Morton Arboretum, and May T. Watts attended a special ceremony in Omaha, representing Mrs. Jean Morton Cudahy, who was invited but could not attend. – Michael T. Stieber

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