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A Guide to the Elizabeth Ogren Rothra Papers

Finding aid created by Bridget Bihm-Manuel

University of Florida Smathers Libraries - Special and Area Studies Collections

May 2017

Descriptive Summary

Creator: Rothra, Elizabeth Ogren
Title: Elizabeth Ogren Rothra Papers
Dates: 1967-1997
Bulk dates: 1972-1976
Abstract: Research materials, clippings, photographs, and correspondence related to the publication of Elizabeth Ogren Rothra's books On Preserving Tropical Florida and Florida's Pioneer Naturalist: The Life of Charles Torrey Simpson.
Extent: .42 Linear feet. 1 Box.
Identification: MSS 0391
Language(s): English

Biographical/Historical Note

Elizabeth Ogren Rothra was born in Jamestown, New York in 1923. She graduated from Jamestown High School in 1941 and attended West Virginia University. During the 1940s, in her native Jamestown, Rothra had a radio program, "Cathy Comes Calling," for a local department store. After moving to New York in the 1950s, she worked in public relations for Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians and Prentice Hall. In 1952, Rothra went to work for Radio Free Europe, becoming assistant public relations director, a position she held for seven years. She also worked as the summer publicity director for the Chautauqua Institution in the 1960s.

In 1962, she married Dann Rothra, and they moved to Miami where she worked as a freelance writer. Rothra became interested in the life of John C. Gifford after visiting his widow in the late 1960s. Gifford, the first person in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in forestry, started his career at Swarthmore College and Cornell University. He moved to Coconut Grove, Florida, in 1903 and was involved in banking, land development, and drainage of the Everglades. He became a professor of tropical forestry at the University of Miami, and is known for introducing the Melaleuca tree to the area. Rothra put together a compilation of Gifford's writings, along with her biography of him, published as On Preserving Tropical Florida (University of Miami Press, 1972).

In 1995, the University Press of Florida published a second book by Rothra, Florida's Pioneer Naturalist: The Life of Charles Torrey Simpson. Simpson, a writer and naturalist interested in tropical horticulture, studied the endangered Florida tree snail and pushed for the creation of a national park in the Everglades. He received the University of Miami's first honorary doctorate.

In addition to writing, Rothra was a volunteer for several organizations, including the Jamestown Audubon Society, serving as both a program chairman and vice president. She divided her time between Florida and New York for twenty years before retiring in Rainbow Springs. She passed away in 2014 at the age of ninety.

Scope and Content

The Elizabeth Ogren Rothra Papers contain materials related to the publication of Rothra's books, On Preserving Tropical Florida and Florida's Pioneer Naturalist: The Life of Charles Torrey Simpson. The collection includes clippings about Rothra and reviews of her books; photocopies of research material on Simpson and Gifford; photographs that were included in Rothra's two books; and Rothra's correspondence with her publishers and research inquiries.

Related or Separated Material

The University of Miami Special Collections holds the Charles T. Simpson Papers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Elizabeth Ogren Rothra Papers, Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.

Acquisition Information

Elizabeth Ogren Rothra donated the collection to the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections in 2013.

Contents List

Box Folder
11 Clippings about the John Gifford book. 1972-1976, 1991
12 Correspondence for book on John Gifford, conservationist. 1967-1972
13 Jane Gifford Howell illustrations for book on John Gifford, conservationist. undated
14 Photographs-various sources-John Gifford book. undated
15 Clippings and reviews, Charles Torrey Simpson book. 1968, 1995-1997
16 Copies-Charles Torrey Simpson letters. 1912
17 Correspondence for book on Charles Torrey Simpson. 1972-1999
18 Photographs-various sources-Charles Torrey Simpson book. undated
19 Negatives-illustrations for Gifford and Simpson books. undated


Sources consulted by Bridget Bihm-Manuel while writing this finding aid:

Gifford, John C. On Preserving Tropical Florida. Compiled and with a biographical sketch by Elizabeth Ogren Rothra. Coral Gables: University of Miami Press, 1972.

Rothra, Elizabeth Ogren. Florida's Pioneer Naturalist: The Life of Charles Torrey Simpson. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1995.

"Naturalist's Old Home a Font of History." Miami News, 22 September 1972.

"Former Jamestown Woman Compiles Book of Writings by Florida Conservation Pioneer." Post-Journal, 22 April 1972.

"Living the Good (Tropical) Life in Miami." Miami Herald, 27 April 1972.

Review of "Florida's Pioneer Naturalist: The Life of Charles Torrey Simpson." Stuart News, 3 March 1996.

"Star of the Week: Elizabeth Rothra." Palm Beach Post, 30 January 1996.

"At Last, Naturalist's Story is Told." Miami Herald, 5 November 1995.

Obituary for Elizabeth Ogren Rothra, Post-Journal, 18 March 2014.

The Senior Annual, Jamestown High School, 1941.

Selected Subjects and Access Terms

Forests and forestry
Gifford, John C. (John Clayton), 1870-1949
Nature conservation
Rothra, Elizabeth Ogren
Simpson, Charles Torrey, 1846-1932

For further information, please contact: Special Collections Access Services.

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