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William E. Colby

William Colby 1875-1964  
  • William E. Colby was an attorney who specialized in mining and water law. As the founder of the club Outings program and a champion for Club conservation goals his entire adult life, he exemplified the active Sierra Club volunteer.
  • Colby worked with John Muir in the club's early campaigns, and later served 49 years on the Board of Directors and 17 years as honorary Vice President. He had joined the Sierra Club 1898, was its third president (after John Muir and Joseph N. LeConte), and served as its secretary from 1900 to 1946.
  • Colby was the inventor of the Sierra Club "High Trips," beginning in 1901, which reinvigorated the Sierra Club at that time. He would go on to organize and lead over 25 annual summer outings for the Sierra Club.

  • Colby was an active participant in the Sierra Club's campaign against the Hetch Hetchy Dam.
  • Colby served for 9 years as chairman and member of the California State Parks Commission, helping to launch the world-renowned California State Park System, the first in the nation.
  • "The Story of the Sierra Club" by William Colby (PDF) was first writen in 1947 and reprinted in the 1961 and 1967 editions of the Sierra Club Handbook.
  • He received the Sierra Club's first "John Muir Award," the Club's highest honor for conservation, in 1961.
  • Later, a Sierra Club award in his name was established for significant contributions to the Sierra Club itself, and the Sierra Club's Colby Library was named in his honor.
Photo of William E. Colby by Cedric Wright. courtesy of Colby Library; all rights reserved.

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