Exhibits in Special Collections

Poster Aldo Leopold exhibitAldo Leopold: Life, Land, Legacy

Department of Special Collections, 976 Memorial Library

January 22 – May 24, 2019

Our lumber pile, recruited entirely from the river, is thus not only a collection of personalities, but an anthology of human strivings in upriver farms and forests. The autobiography of an old board is a kind of literature not yet taught on campuses, but any riverbank farm is a library where he who hammers or saws may read at will. Come high water, there is always an accession of new books. – Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac (1949)

Writers have often compared libraries and archives to wildernesses. But for Aldo Leopold, the metaphor was reversed. To him, a woodpile was as rich in meaning as a library of good books.

Aldo Leopold (January 11, 1887 – April 21, 1948) was a conservationist, author, professor, and public intellectual. He joined the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1933 where he taught courses such as “Wildlife Techniques” and “Game Management.” He is best known as the author of the posthumously published A Sand County Almanac (1949).

From University Archives, Series 3/1, Box 84, Folder 2 (1936-1937).

Leopold’s papers came to the UW-Madison Archives in several installments beginning in the early 1960s. The majority of Leopold’s surviving manuscripts are found in the Aldo Leopold Papers, a collection held by University Archives in Steenbock Library.

Another major collection – the R.A. McCabe Collection of the Writings of Aldo Leopold – has a home here in the Department of Special Collections.

From Leopold’s manuscript draft of A Sand County Almanac. Part of the R.A. McCabe Collection of the Writings of Aldo Leopold, Department of Special Collections.

Most of Leopold’s papers were digitized by the library between 2007 and 2009 through an NHPRC grant to University Archives and the Aldo Leopold Foundation and are freely available online through UW Digital Collections.

The first-ever large scale exhibit of Aldo Leopold manuscripts is now open at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Special Collections, on the 9th floor of Memorial Library. The exhibit explores Leopold’s life and work. It also includes items generously lent by the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

The exhibit was collaboratively curated by Katie Nash, Robin Rider, and David Pavelich. Many thanks to friends and colleagues who helped along the way: among them, Stan Temple, Curt Meine, Buddy Huffaker, Natasha Veeser, Dan Joe, Carly Sentieri, and Gil Taylor.

Open to the public Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.






  • 2 PM Special exhibit viewing
  • 3 PM Lecture by Curt Meine, biographer of Aldo Leopold & senior fellow at the Aldo Leopold Foundation
  • 4 PM Reception with refreshments provided by the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries
  • RSVP requested through the Aldo Leopold Foundation

Presented in partnership with Aldo Leopold Foundation and the Friends of the UW-Madison Libraries