NELSON, Gaylord Anton (1916-2005)

NELSON, GAYLORD ANTON, a Senator from Wisconsin; born in Clear Lake, Polk County, Wis., June 4, 1916; attended the public schools of Clear Lake; graduated from the San Jose (Calif.) State College in 1939 and from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1942; admitted to the Wisconsin bar the same year; during the Second World War served as a lieutenant in the United States Army for four years, serving overseas in the Okinawa campaign; engaged in the practice of law in Madison, Wis., in 1946; elected to the State senate in 1948, 1952, and 1956, and served as Democratic floor leader for four years; Governor of Wisconsin 1959-1962; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in November 1962 for the term commencing January 3, 1963; subsequently served out his term as Governor until January 7, 1963, and commenced his term in the Senate on January 8, 1963; reelected in 1968 and 1974 and served from January 8, 1963, to January 3, 1981; unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1980; chairman, Select Committee on Small Business (Ninety-third through Ninety-sixth Congresses), Special Committee on Official Conduct (Ninety-fifth Congress); founder of Earth Day 1970; counselor, The Wilderness Society, Washington, D.C.; awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on September 29, 1995; was a resident of Kensington, Md., until his death due to cardiovascular failure on July 3, 2005; remains cremated and buried in family plot in Clear Lake, Wisconsin.

Boise State University Library

Boise, ID
Papers: Correspondence in the Frank Church papers,1941-1984. Finding aid.


Broadcast Pioneers Library
University of Maryland Hornbake Library
College Park, MD
Papers: 5 audiotapes (1972-1975) in Westinghouse Broadcasting Company collection, 1945-1981.


Eastern Kentucky University
Special Collections and Archives
Richmond, KY
Papers: Correspondence in Minor Edward Clark papers, 1930-1978.

Gerald R. Ford Library
Ann Arbor, MI
Papers: 1974-1977. Correspondence and briefing papers. Finding aid.

John F. Kennedy Library
Boston, MA
Oral History: 1964. 15 pages. Permission required.

University of Wisconsin
Platteville Area Research Center
Platteville, WI
Papers: Correspondence in the Norman A. Clapp papers, 1944-1989.


Wisconsin Historical Society
Archives Division
Madison, WI
Papers: 1916-2005. 1040.9 cubic feet. Gubernatorial papers including general and departmental correspondence; agency minutes and reports; official greetings and statements; bill files; subject, appointment, and personal files; news releases; invitations; and scrapbooks (reproduced on microfilm). Correspondence includes exchanges with the general public, Democratic Party leaders, state officials, and members of various state committees and groups. Topics include civil defense, conservation, Menominee tribal termination, and taxation. Senatorial papers include correspondence, subject files, photographs, and video recordings.
Additional Papers: Correspondence or information on in Ivan Arnold Nestingen papers, 1942-1961; Capitol Community Citizens, Madison, WI, records, 1964-1976; WEKZ Radio Station records, 1950-1968; WHA-TV documentary , 1987; Thomas Barland papers, 1956-1966; Edwin Bayley papers, 1941-2001; Charles E. Broughton papers, 1873-1956; Walter Brovald papers, 1938-1990; Beatrice Kabler papers, 1966-1982; Frederick Kessler papers, 1958-1992;Harry Kitzman papers, 2938-1972; Lowell Klessig papers, 1969-1982; John Kole papers, 1960-1989; Orland Loomis papers, 1909-1945; Patrick Lucey papers, 1935-2003; Newton Minow papers, 1954-1965; Ivan Nestingen papers, 1942-1961; William Proxmire papers, 1938-2004; and Fred Resser papers, 1958-2001. Finding aid.
Oral History: Interviews in the Wisconsin Democratic Party oral history project, 1982-1986 and the Huffman environmental oral history project, 1986.


U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Office of History
Fort Belvoir, VA
Oral History: April 15, 1988. Transcript. Interviewed as part of Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway history project.

University of Oklahoma
Political Commercial Archive
Norman, OK
Papers: Gaylord Nelson Commercials, 1968-1980.


University of Wisconsin
Green Bay Area Research Center
Green Bay, WI
Papers: Correspondence in the arnold S. Zander papers, 1921-1975.


University of Wisconsin
Whitewater Area Research Center
Whitewater, WI
Papers: Correspondence in the William Merriam papers, 1958-1966.


University of Wisconsin
River Falls Research Center
River Falls, WI
Papers: Correspondence in Harvey Dueholm papers,1920, 1929-1992 and Walker Wyman papers, 1914-1978.


University of Wisconsin
Milwaukee Area Research Center
Milwaukee, WI
Papers: Correspondence in Frederick Kessler papers, 1958-1992.


Yale University Libraries
Manuscripts and Archives
New Haven, CT
Papers: In Hanson Weightman Baldwin papers, 1929-1988.





  • Christofferson, Bill. The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
  • Huffman, Thomas R. Protectors of the Land and Water: Environmentalism in Wisconsin, 1961-1968. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.
  • Nelson, Gaylord. "What Are Me and You Gonna Do? Children's Letters to Senator Gaylord Nelson About the Environment". New York: Ballantine Books, 1971.
  • ___, et al. America's Last Chance. Waukesha, WI: Country Beautiful Corp., 1970.
  • ___, with Susan Campbell and Paul Wozniak. Beyond Earth Day: Fulfilling the Promise. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2002.
  • Rome, Adam. The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-In Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation. New York: Hill and Wang, 2013.
  • Webber, David J. Outstanding Environmentalists of Congress. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Capitol Historical Society, 2002.