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Virginia Wilderness Committee Records

Identifier: SC 0209
  • Not requestable

  • Staff Only

Scope and Content

The Virginia Wilderness Committee Records, 1961-2009, document the organization's staff and organizers, finances, meetings, newsletters, and projects which include wilderness legislation, preservation, and protection in Virginia's national forests and other wild areas.


  • 1961-2009


Access Restrictions

Collection open to research. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection. A USB drive containing 1,802 files in 127 folders (128 MB) is inaccessible pending migration. Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the James Madison University Special Collections Library to use this collection.

Use Restrictions

The donor retains copyright for Virginia Wilderness Committee: Forty Years, Recollections in 2009 by Jim Murray, and Virginia Wilderness Bill 2000 until March 1, 2020. Otherwise, the copyright interests in this collection have been transferred to the James Madison University Special Collections Library. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library Reference Desk (

Administrative History

The Virginia Wilderness Committee (VWC) consists of a group of citizens whose goal is to preserve and protect wild areas in Virginia. It was established in May 1969 during a workshop meeting organized by The Wilderness Society. The first leadership council consisted of John McKnight of Williamsburg as the first chairman, J. James "Jim " Murray, as vice-chairman, and Lloyd Sumner as secretary treasurer. The VWC and The Wilderness Society immediately joined forces to found the Virginia Conservation Council in order to serve as an umbrella organization for Virginia's growing number of wilderness-oriented organizations. In 1976, the VWC played a role in adding additional acreage to the Shenandoah National Park wilderness proposal. The VWC also campaigned for the Virginia Wilderness Act of 1984, a major piece of legislation that designated ten areas for wilderness protection. In the 1990s, some members of Congress opposed additional wilderness designation legislation. During this time, the VWC focused on protecting wild areas, opposing the construction of a gas pipeline through potential future wilderness designated areas, compiling and publishing a memorial book on Ernie Dickerman, an important member of the VWC who passed in 1998, and other projects. In the early 2000s, the VWC was involved in the revision of the management plan for the Thomas Jefferson National Forest, as well as with the Virginia Wilderness Act of 2000. In 2009, the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act was finally passed within an omnibus bill. The VWC had tracked and campaigned for this bill since it was first introduced in 2004. The 2009 Act designated 53,000 acres of land in Virginia as wilderness.

VWC's major concern has been working with Congress in order to pass legislation to designate specific wild areas as "wilderness." With this designation, an area is entitled to a certain level of protection under the Wilderness Act of 1964. The VWC has also been concerned with beach traffic, air quality, water quality, dams, wildlife and endangered species, power lines, wilderness usage, roads, Virginia's National Forests, the National Park Service, oil drilling in the arctic, wilderness trails, eminent domain, etc.


9 cubic feet (5 boxes, 4 flat files)

Language of Materials



The Virginia Wilderness Committee Records, 1961-2009, comprise official records - administrative and financial records, newsletters, project and subject files - documenting the organization's activities and projects related to wilderness legislation, preservation, and protection in Virginia's national forests and other wild areas.


The collection is arranged in four series. Series 3: Subject Files is arranged further into subseries. Series 1, 2, and 4 are arranged chronologically. Series 3 is arranged alphabetically.

  1. Administrative Files, 1961-2005
  2. Legislative Files, 1962-2009
  3. Subject Files, 1965-2009
  4. Maps, 2002-2004

Acquisition Information

J. James "Jim" Murray and Elizabeth "Bess" Murray donated this collection in March 2010.

Related Material

Ernest M. Dickerman Papers, 1936-2005, SC 0143, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.

U.S. Forest Service, George Washington National Forest, Dry River District Records, 1917-1994, SC 0083, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA.

U.S. Forest Service, George Washington National Forest, Lost River and Massanutten Working Circles Reports, 1912-1940, SC 0106, Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Va.


  • Murray, Jim. "The Virginia Wilderness Committee: History and Accomplishments," January 2012. (accessed October 25, 2018).

Processing Information

Newspaper clippings were photocopied and originals were discarded. During initial processing, photographs were separated from their original folders and placed in a Photographs series. Folders were been rearranged into series, but the order imposed by the creator at the folder level has been generally maintained.

In an effort to reimpose the original order of these records, the collection was reprocessed in December 2018. At this time, the files were arranged alphabetically according to subject and/or by general forest subjects, George Washington National Forest, and Jefferson National Forest. This is how the original order was described upon accession. Administrative and financial files were also grouped together. During reprocessing, all photographs were refiled in their original folders or filed into folders based on intellectual relationship.

In order to streamline the process of applying collection numbers, Special Collections staff completed a large-scale renumbering campaign in 2017-2018. This collection was previously cataloged as SC 5032.



A Guide to the Virginia Wilderness Committee Records, 1961-2009
Tara Mastrangelo and Kayla Payne, Tiffany Cole
June 2012, December 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the James Madison University Libraries Special Collections Repository

820 Madison Drive
MSC 1706
Harrisonburg Virginia 22807
(540) 568-3612