Library Unveils Becking Environmental Collection - Humboldt State Now

Library Unveils Becking Environmental Collection

The Humboldt State University Library has opened the collection of HSU emeritus professor and former Arcata City Councilman Rudolf Becking. It is an extensive archive that encompasses his research on behalf of the Arcata Community Forest and the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary.

The opening of Becking’s large mixed-media collection on the modern environmental history of northwestern California is a milestone for the University Library. The records had been closed for several years after they were donated to the Library in 2004, owing to limited resources for readying archival collections for research use.

But in 2010, Humboldt State was among nine California institutions that shared a $446,817 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, administered by the Council for Library and Information Resources. HSU’s share, $55,000, was one of the council’s Hidden Collections Grants, which make archival material of California’s environmental history available to scholars worldwide.

Each of the nine institutions conducted its cataloging work independently, while the California Digital Library hosted tools, training and a virtual meeting space to advance the uncovering of hidden collections.

Becking was a scientist, activist and critic in environmental management in Humboldt County and the surrounding region from the 1960s through the 1990s. Professor of Forestry and Natural Resources at Humboldt State from 1960 to 1983, he specialized in the redwoods, sustainable forestry and community plant ecology. His political activism spanned the founding and subsequent expansion of Redwood National Park, Arcata and Humboldt Bay environmental issues and revision of the California Forest Practices Act.

A guide to the collection is available from the Online Archive of California at×0nf6g9.

The HSU Library’s Humboldt Room houses published works and archival collections about Humboldt County and the surrounding region. Subjects extensively represented include natural resources, Native peoples and primary industries of northwestern California. The Web site is at