Robert Rienow Papers, 1875-1984, bulk 1955-1979
- Rienow, Robert, 1907-1989
- Correspondence with publishers and environmental groups including the Constitutional Council for Forest Preserves, 1970–71; Defenders of Wildlife, 1970–76; Albany Environmental Council, 1965–76; draft manuscripts and typescripts, 1956–79, of texts, scholarly and popular articles and books relating to local, state, national, and international government and to environmental issues such as the anti-nuclear movement, forest preservation, wildlife preservation, the Adirondack Mountains, lecture notes taken as a student and given to his classes, 1930–70, scripts for his television series "Man Against His Environment", 1970–71, drafts of speeches on environmental concerns, tape cassettes on environmental issues created as staff lecturer for the Center for Cassette Studies, clippings files on government and environmental issues, photographs of Rienow and his wife. Robert Rienow was educated at Carthage College (B.A., 1930), and Columbia University (M.A., 1934; Ph.D., 1937), served as Instructor, 1936–41, Assistant Professor, 1941–47, and Professor, 1947–80, of Social Science at the State University of New York at Albany, now the University at Albany. Through out his career Rienow maintained an active interest in environmental issues and a belief in the need to popularize issues of public concern. (See also papers of his wife Leona Train Rienow).
- 15.72 cubic ft.
- English and English
- Preferred citation:
- Preferred citation for this material is as follows: and Identification of specific item, series, box, folder, Robert Rienow Papers, 1875-1984. M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University at Albany, State University of New York (hereafter referred to as [shortened name]).
Access and Use
- Conditions Governing Access:
Access to student papers and class lists at the end of series 2 is restricted. Other series are unrestricted. Consult a staff member for details.
The researcher assumes full responsibility for conforming with the laws of copyright. Whenever possible, the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives will provide information about copyright owners and other restrictions, but the legal determination ultimately rests with the researcher. Requests for permission to publish material from this collection should be discussed with the Head of Special Collections and Archives.
- Scope and Content:
The papers in this collection document Rienow's professional career and personal interests. The collection contains personal files such as records relating to his service in both the United States Army and the New York National Guard; tax information; papers written by Rienow while he was in school; and family papers such as deeds. There are also a significant number of correspondence files. Much of the correspondence is with publishers and editors of various magazines and publishing houses. There is also correspondence with fellow members of environmental organizations and other personal correspondence, such as with Erastus Corning II, Mayor of the City of Albany, and fan mail received by Rienow and his wife.
The collection also contains papers related to Rienow's career at the State University of New York at Albany. These include extensive lecture notes, syllabi, copies of exams and some professional correspondence. Transcripts and some syllabi for the Man Against His Environment lecture series and a televised political science course called Living Patterns of Government can also be found within the collection. Files related to Rienow's writing career include manuscripts, drafts, and notes on his books and articles. In some cases the printed version of the article is available in the collection through copies of the publication, such as the American Legion Magazine.
There are also a series of audio tapes from the Center of Cassette Studies on a variety of environmental issues. Many of these tapes contain lectures from the Man Against His Environment series.
Also significant in the collection are subject files with mailings, notes, publications, photos, and articles on environmental issues, many of which were subjects of articles by Rienow. The subject files include information on organizations such as Defenders of Wildlife, the Nature Conservancy, and Zero Population Growth, as well as topics such as air and water pollution, wildlife protection, overpopulation and zero population growth, forest preservation and the preservation of the Adirondack Mountain region, and the anti-nuclear movement.
Strengths of the collection include the scripts from television and radio broadcasts; information regarding trends in environmental activism and Rienow's interests in the environmental movement; and the drafts and manuscripts of articles and speeches, many with annotations which illuminate Rienow's writing process.
Weaknesses of the collection include the lack of material on Rienow's personal life outside of his environmental interests as well as information on and materials from Rienow's life prior to 1960. There are also a significant number of news clippings and notes written on scraps of paper, and their significance is often unclear. Much of Rienow's voluminous correspondence related to his interest in environmental issues was lost in a fire at his home in 1989.
Researchers should see also the collection of Leona Train Rienow (MSS-025) in the M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives. Though her collection includes manuscripts of her own publications (children's short stories and novels), it also contains manuscripts of some of her publications on the environment, many of which were written with her husband. This collection also contains correspondence from 1938 to 1963. Related collections can be found in the subject guides for Conservation and the Environment and University at Albany Faculty, Students, and Alumnae.
- Biographical / Historical:
Robert Rienow was born in Grafton, Wisconsin on December 4, 1907, and later in life married Leona Train, a writer of children's books and articles, and his occasional co-author. After a year at West Point, Rienow continued his education at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1930. His first job was as a school principal at a small school in Wisconsin. Rienow went on to earn advanced degrees from Columbia University in the field of international law and government (M.A., 1933; Ph.D., 1937). While obtaining his master's degree, he taught for one year at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Rienow was also the recipient of Columbia University's Gilder Fellowship in Public Law. In 1935, Rienow attended Ohio State University as part of a research fellowship. ["Rienow to Discuss National Doctrine, Re-sing Scheduled", Unidentified News Clipping, 5 December 1947]. His Ph.D. dissertation was titled "The Test of the Nationality of a Merchant Vessel". While Rienow was completing his Ph.D. at Columbia he served as an Instructor of Political Science in the Social Sciences Department at the New York State College for Teachers, which later became the State University of New York at Albany and is presently known as the University at Albany, SUNY. Rienow continued in this position until 1941, when he was promoted to the position of Assistant Professor. Rienow was promoted to Professor in 1947 and held this position until 1980.
In July of 1943, Rienow took a leave of absence from his teaching position to serve in the United States Army during World War II. Rienow held a Selective Service position as a Classification Specialist, both in the United States and in the Pacific Theater, until 1945, when he was honorably discharged. He ended his career with the United States Army in 1946 at the rank of First Lieutenant in the Adjutant General's Office. Upon his return, Rienow served in the New York State National Guard in the Selective Service branch, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1962, Rienow, along with his unit, received an award on behalf of the National Guard for the superior ratings received by the unit at regular army inspections.
Rienow was a prolific writer who published books and articles on both political science and environmental issues. The most prominent of these was Moment in the Sun (1967), which he co-authored with his wife. Other significant works were Calling All Citizens (1952), New York State and Local Government (1959), Introduction to Government (1964), Our New Life with the Atom (1959), Of Snuff, Sin, and the Senate (1965), and The Lonely Quest (1966). The final three were co-authored by Rienow and Leona Train Rienow. Rienow also wrote numerous articles, both alone and in collaboration with his wife. Most of these articles expressed concern about environmental issues, though some were humorous or satirical pieces. Rienow's articles were published in magazines such as Harper's Weekly, This Week, the American Legion Magazine, the Saturday Review, and Ladies Home Journal.
Rienow maintained a vigorous interest in environmental issues throughout his life. A noted speaker, he delivered many lectures and presentations on environmental issues. In the late 1960s he developed a series of broadcasts on the environment in cooperation with the State University of New York at Albany's School of Public Policy. The series, Man Against His Environment, consisted of 28 lectures on topics such as water pollution, wildlife protection, overpopulation and zero population growth, as well as many others.
Rienow was a member of numerous environmental organizations, including Defenders of Wildlife, the Constitutional Council for Forest Preserves, the Audubon Society, the Sierra Club, and the Albany Environmental Council. He was an officer of the New York Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Rienow's professional affiliations included the New York State Political Science Association, of which he was elected president in 1955. ["SCT President Heads Political Science Unit", Unidentified News Clipping, April 1955.]
Robert Rienow died in 1989 as the result of a fire in his home.
- Acquisition information:
All items in this manuscript group were donated to the University Libraries, M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives, in June 1988.
- Processing information:
Processed in 2004 by Margaret Hogan, December 2004, Aimee Morgan, April 2005; revisions, Ted Hoppenstedt.
- Political Science
Military and Armed Conflict
Conservation and the Environment
Conservation of natural resources--Citizen participation
Environmental health--Political aspects
Environmental policy--Social aspects
UAlbany Faculty & Alumni Papers
- Rienow, Robert, 1907-1989
Rienow, Leona Train
State University of New York at Albany
Defenders of Wildlife
Nature Conservancy (U.S.)
Zero Population Growth, Inc.