The struggle for social and environmental justice
Henry David Thoreau saw the exploitation of people and of nature as two sides of the same coin of injustice and oppression. In his own day, he decried an economic and political system that countenanced human bondage even as it despoiled nature. As he asks in “Slavery in Massachusetts,” “[W]hat signifies the beauty of nature when men are base?”
The Thoreau Society continues our namesake’s struggle to open all eyes to social and environmental injustice, and to end blindness to the consequences of unchecked racism, climate change, and other threats to individual freedom, democratic equality, and social justice in the United States and around the world. As a community devoted to Thoreau’s legacy, we are a work-in-progress, committed to the perpetual challenge of improving the Thoreau Society as an embodiment—and a promoter—of these ideals.
Founded in 1941, The Thoreau Society is the largest and oldest organization devoted to an American author. The Society has members from more than twenty countries around the world, the Penobscot Nation, and all fifty U.S. states. The Thoreau Society is committed to diversity and inclusion, and welcomes people of all ages, ethnicities, gender expressions and identities, origins, physical abilities, races, religions, and sexual orientations. In Walden, Thoreau wrote, “I desire that there may be as many different persons in the world as possible.” The Thoreau Society likewise recognizes that the contributions of all will continue to result in a more vital organization and a more vital world.
The Thoreau Society exists to stimulate interest in and foster education about Thoreau’s life, works, legacy and his place in his world and in ours, challenging all to live a deliberate, considered life.
The Thoreau Society keeps Thoreau's writings and ideas alive around the globe and across generations.
- To encourage research on Thoreau’s life and works and to act as a repository for Thoreau-related materials
- To educate the public about Thoreau’s ideas and their application to contemporary life
- To preserve Thoreau’s legacy and advocate for the preservation of Thoreau country