Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Ferguson, A. Claude mss., ca. 1970–2009, consist of the correspondence, collected subject files, writings and legal records of Claude Ferguson, a career employee of the U.S. Forest Service who was instrumental in the creation of the Charles C. Deam Wilderness area, Indiana's only Federal Wilderness area, in the Hoosier National Forest.

Claude Ferguson was born on January 13, 1923, the second child of Carl and Mary Willie Boles Ferguson. Ferguson joined the U.S. Forest Service in 1940, as a Fire Lookout in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri while still in high school. He served three years in the U.S. Navy during World War II, returning to the Mark Twain as a Forestry Aid following his release from the Navy. He obtained a B.S. degree in Forestry with distinction from the University of Missouri in 1952. In 1966, he became Forest Supervisor of the Wayne (Ohio) and Hoosier (Indiana) National Forests with headquarters in Bedford, Indiana.

Beginning in April, 1970, when confronted with increasing pressures to permit the development and use of off-road vehicle trails in the Hoosier National Forest, Ferguson "met the test of his lifetime" and "deviated from the norms of the U.S. Forest Service articulated by Herbert Kaufman in The Forest Ranger, to become a government guerrilla against the organization he loved," working through the media and the courts to halt the destruction of this pristine wilderness area and leading to legal fallout with the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to his years in the service of forest defense, Ferguson was an accomplished spoon player and a scholar of the Bright Hope Furnace Ledger, a 1835 daily sales ledger for the Bright Hope Iron Furnace company store in Greene County, TN which Ferguson transcribed.

The collection is organized into the following series: I. Subject Files; II. Legal Files; and III. Bright Hope Furnace Ledger. The Subject Files series includes correspondence, clippings, publications, and notes relating to various environmentally and personally significant topics. Legal Files encompass the correspondence, clippings, and reports surrounding Ferguson's legal battles with the U.S. Forest Service. The Bright Hope Furnace Ledger series collects Ferguson's notes and research regarding his transcription of the ledger, as well as contextual information about the locations and individuals mentioned within the ledger and the typescripts themselves.

An inventory is available.

Acquired: 2011

Collection size: 13,000 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.