Primary Source Report-SL

1972 Walter Lawrance Annual Report on Pollution.

Walter A. Lawrance. Androscoggin River Studies: Thirty Year Annual Report, October 1972, Androscoggin River Studies, Box 6, Folder 2, Walter A. Lawrance Papers, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.

Walter Lawrance oversaw efforts to cleanup the Androscoggin River between 1943-1976. His annual reports detailed waste discharged into the river by the three paper mills and includes data on the quality of the water. His measurements of odor, dissolved oxygen levels, and microbial population will provide evidence of the effectiveness of Brown Paper Company’s efforts to remediate the Androscoggin over time (I will focus on 1972-1977). Moreover, I will compare Lawrance’s reports and data to studies conducted at the time by the EPA in order to evaluate the reliability of Lawrance’s reports.

EPA Androscoggin River Study Report of Data, 1977.

US Environmental Protection Agency, Androscoggin River Study, 1877 (Lexington, Massachusetts: 1978).

The Environmental Protection Agency’s 1977 report of data will provide reliable information on the effectiveness of the remediation efforts of the Androscoggin, which resulted from the 1972 Clean Water Act. By combining reports conducted by the EPA with those by the Paper Mills themselves, I will be able to detect inconsistencies in how the company and EPA interpreted the data being collected. More importantly, this report will serve as an end point for my study because it documents a river that could, after many uninhabitable years, once again sustain life. 

Press Reports 1973.

Walter A. Lawrance. Androscoggin River Studies: Thirty-one Year Annual Report, October 1973, Androscoggin River Studies, Box 6, Folder 3, Walter A. Lawrance Papers, Edmund Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.

Walter Lawrance’s compilation of press reports for the Brown Paper Company highlight media coverage that was of interest to the Brown Paper Company and other mills along the Androscoggin from 1943-1976. The files document media coverage of pollution, legislative and legal action related to pollution and paper mills, and newspaper articles reflecting public opinion of the mills. This will not only provide a window into the concerns and interests of the Brown Company by revealing which news stories they were tracking, but will also help identify the public’s changing attitudes about the company and environmental issues. Lawrance’s press reports will also lead me to specific newspapers that may contain additional coverage of the Brown Company and the pollution of the Androscoggin.

Environmental Studies: Documerica Photographs 1971-1977

“Documerica,” (Local ID 412-DA).

The Documerica Project was conducted by freelance photographers hired by the EPA between 1971-1977. The National Archives now holds over 15,000 photographs relating to environmental problems and EPA activities. Within the collection are many photographs of the polluted Androscoggin and the paper mills responsible. I will use the collection to gain a better understanding of how the Brown Company polluted the river and what residents along the river saw on a regular basis. These images will also provide visuals to include in my final report. For example, Documerica documents the same points along the river over a course of several years. This will allow me to see the results of remediation efforts. When combined with the raw data outlined above, I will have a better picture of the strategies used to remediate the river. That is, whether the effort was focused on making the river more sightly, legitimately cleaner, or some combination of both. 

Brown Company Operations: Financial Records

The Berlin Mills Company/Brown Company, 1009.076, 2010.033, New Hampshire Historical Society, Concord, NH.

The Brown Company Collection at the New Hampshire Historical Society contains documents related to operations, finance, and management. This collection will provide evidence of the company’s remediation efforts by documenting expenditures and technology employed. For example, financial records detail how much money the company spent before and after the Clean Water Act was passed. This will show how the company responded to the law and help me understand the effectiveness of enforcement.


Toxics, Water, Pollution, Factories, Business