Publications about Gilbert F. White

What is important is where we stand in relation to the tasks of society . . . What shall it profit [the profession of geography] if it fabricates a nifty discipline about the world while that world and the human spirit are degraded?


Kates, Robert W. 2011. Gilbert F. White 1911–2006; A Biographical Memoir by Robert W. Kates.

A moving tribute to the life and science of this wonderful man, written by one of his more prominent students. The memoir is available on the National Academy of Sciences website.

Hinshaw, Robert. E. 2006. Living with Nature's Extremes: The Life of Gilbert Fowler White. ISBN: 1-55566-388-5. Boulder, Colorado: Johnson Books. Available from the Natural Hazards Center for $15 plus shipping. To purchase, order online or download an order form and return it to Natural Hazards Center, University of Colorado, 482 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309-0482; fax: (303) 492-2151; e-mail:

This comprehensive biography both chronicles the life of Gilbert White and provides insights into "Gilbert White: The Man" and his legacy. It examines Gilbert's life as a prominent social scientist who advocated sound resource management and husbandry of the earth, as well as his life as a Quaker. The remarkable synthesis of his work and his beliefs - in both the ideas that he championed and the methods he used to promote those ideas - testifies to the profound spiritual basis of his career. Gilbert championed accommodation rather than confrontation in resource management, and in his work with others, he "led from below" - encouraging and empowering others to seek out and implement just, equitable solutions and always pursuing consensus and agreement rather than imposing ideas or solutions from above.

White, Gilbert F. 2002. "Autobiographical Essay." Pages 341-364 in Geographical Voices: Fourteen Autobiographical Essays, Peter Gould and Forrest R. Pitts, editors. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press.

For this volume, Gilbert White was one of fourteen geographers asked to recount his experience and share his insights as a geographer. His essay highlights "six chronological periods during which my concern with roughly four fields of major scientific and policy interest have unfolded." It thus includes his evaluation of some of the key influences in his career and the principal issues he has addressed.

Religious Education Committee of Friends General Conference. 2004. Lives That Speak: Stories of Twentieth-Century Quakers, Marnie Clark, editor. Philadelphia: Quaker Press.

A central tenet of Quakerism is that the way one lives a life should demonstrate one's beliefs. Thus the essays in this volume are intended to show that Quakerism is not simply a faith but rather "a way of being in the world." The book includes a short biographical essay, "Gilbert White: Using Science to Help People" (pp. 128-138) that discusses how Gilbert demonstrated his faith from his earliest years as a child and student in Chicago, through his work with the New Deal administration, his work with the American Friends Service Committee during and following World War II, his tenure as president of Haverford College, and his subsequent career as a scholar and shaper of local, national, and world policy and programs addressing natural resource use and preservation.

American Geophysical Union. History of Hydrology Film Interviews - Gilbert F. White, Interviewed by Mary Fran Myers. ISBN: 0-87590-286-3. (Product code VI-006-2863). Available from the American Geophysical Union (AGU), 2000 Florida Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20009-1277; tel: 202-462-6900 (toll free in North America: 1-800-966-2481); fax: 202-328-0566.

The AGU has sponsored a series of in-depth videotape interviews in which eminent scientists and scholars discuss achievements in hydrological science during their careers and offer insights into the progress of hydrological research during the second half of the 20th century. Collectively, the videotapes comprise an important record of the history of hydrology. Individually, this interview provides information about the work, accomplishments, thoughts, and concerns of Gilbert White, as well as insight into the man himself.

Kates, Robert W. and Ian Burton, editors. Geography, Resources and Environment, Volume 1: Selected Writings of Gilbert F. White and Volume II: Themes from the Work of Gilbert F. White. ISBN: 0-226-42574-6 and 0-226-42577-0. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Assembled in 1986 by students of Gilbert White, these two volumes comprise a festschrift in his honor. The first volume is a broad sampling of White's work, spanning his interests and career from 1934 to 1984. Individual introductions by the editors place each selection in historical perspective and assay its significance. The companion volume includes writings from many of White's students and colleagues and demonstrates the work that he inspired. The publisher recommends these volumes to "all who share [Gilbert White's] concern for the stewardship of the earth."

Reuss, Martin. 1993. Water Resources People and Issues: Gilbert F. White. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers publication EP 870-1-43. Fort Belvoir, Virginia: Office of History, United States Army Corps of Engineers.

This is an extended (78 page) interview with Gilbert White, conducted by a senior historian of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It covers White's early life and career in water resources management through his major academic achievements in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. The introduction states:

"Gilbert White's influence on floodplain management practice in the United States can hardly be overestimated. . . . [His] work demonstrated that flood control structures not only occasionally fail the standards of reliability set by planners but can actually increase the damage done when unsuspecting people risk lives and money to develop the land supposedly protected. . . . White advocated the use of nonstructural solutions, such as zoning restrictions and floodproofing, to complement or replace more traditional structural approaches.

While White's academic career is distinguished, it is his commitment to public policy that dramatically expands the significance of contributions. . . . With one eye on lessons from the past, he has never lost sight of long-term objectives: sustaining life in all its forms and avoiding violent confrontation both with one another and with nature itself. . . . His global studies of the interaction between humankind and water resources implicitly suggest that the choices humans make in one corner of the world may contain lessons for others elsewhere. . . . His legacy among geographers is unrivaled."

White, Gilbert, n.d., Oral History 1001v, interview. Boulder, Colorado: Maria Rogers Oral History Program Collection, Carnegie Branch Library for Local History.

The Maria Rogers Oral History Project, maintained at the Boulder, Colorado Carnegie Branch Library, includes an interview with Gilbert White as part of its extensive collection on Boulder people and history. Currently, the interview is only available by visiting the library, although the library anticipates posting an on-line summary and providing internet audio access in the future.

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