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Environment collection of Peter S. Thacher, 1960-1996.


The collection consists of the personal library and business files of Peter S. Thacher dating from his career beginning in 1971 at the United Nations Environment Programme, as Senior Counselor of the World Resources Institute as well as work with other notable institutions, organizations, events and activities.

The collection has been divided into three main file categories: A. Correspondence file, B. Organization file, C. Business file. The correspondence file contains all correspondence, including incoming, outgoing, 3rd party correspondence, cables and draft cables. The organization file contains all documents generated by institutions with which Thacher was involved. The business file contains personal, administrative or biographical information found in the original donation.

PROCESSING NOTE: The papers of Peter Thacher were packed on-site by the Environmental Resources Librarian where they had been stored for many years. It was apparent that the papers had not been ordered or had not remained in any recognizable filing system. Upon further investigation, it was concluded that the papers were essentially in disarray and that processing would require creating an imposed order for the collection. It was apparent that 3 different types of records were present: correspondence, organizational files i.e. files generated by an organization or event and personal business, administrative or biographical files. These types became the three dominant record groups by which the collection would be processed.


  • 1960-1996.


Collection open for research. Access restricted to open hours of the archives, with the permission and under the supervision of the archivist or the Environmental Resources Librarian.


The Peter S. Thacher Environment Collection is the physical property of the Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives, Harvard College. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.


52.33 linear feet (129 boxes)

Peter S. Thacher, 1926-1999

"Mr. [Peter S.] Thacher(1926-1999) was born in New York City, served in the US Navy during World War II attending Dartmouth College in the V-12 program, and graduated from Yale University in 1948. From 1948 to 1951 he was employed at the European Marshall Plan Headquarters in Paris, and thereafter served with the Department of Army in Washington, Korea and Japan. In 1956 he was assigned by the State Department to the United States Mission to the United Nations in New York where he served until 1971 as Counselor for Science and Technology, Arms Control, Outer Space and Seabeds. In 1971 he joined the United Nations as Program Director for the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (June, 1972 Stockholm) and was in charge of United Nations Environment Programme's European Office in Geneva until 1977 when he then moved to the Nairobi office where he was the Director for approximately 5 years. In 1983 he retired from the UN as Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) at its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, with the rank of United Nations Assistant Secretary-General. In 1985, the Government of Spain conferred on him the Knight Commander's Cross of the Order of Civil Merit in recognition of his role in creating the Mediterranean Action Plan in the mid 1970s. Since retiring from the UN in 1983 his work with United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration and UNEP led to the establishment of GRID- the Global Resources Information Database. He also served in an advisory capacity to a variety of groups including the World Health Organization, (WHO), theInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, (IUCN), the U.S. National Committee for Man and Biosphere Program (MAB), and the United Nations University (UNU). He was a member of theAdvisory Committee on Environment of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), the Board of Americans for Universality of UNESCO, and the Board of Review of the American Society of International Law, and was a member of the United States Committee of ISCU's Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE). He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) as well as a number of natural resource and environment groups. In 1987 he received UNEP'sGlobal 500 Award. He joined the World Resources Institute, a nonprofit, policy-research organization in Washington, as Senior Counselor in the mid 1980s and served as the Senior Adviser to the Secretary-General of theUnited Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio, 1992)." (Author unknown, from biographical notes found within collection.)


The Peter S. Thacher Environment Collection was acquired in 1997 in its entirety as a gift from Peter S. Thacher. Several accessions followed in 1998 and 1999 which have not yet been processed.

Accession number: 997.1

Processing Information

Amy Christensen,

1998 Nov-1999 Oct

Thacher, Peter S., 1926-1999. Environment collection of Peter S. Thacher, part I, 1960-1996: Guide.
Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives, Harvard College
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the ESPP Archives Repository

The Environmental Science and Public Policy Archives (ESPPA) has materials in the fields of environment and sustainability science, related public policy, and cultural perspectives on the environment. There is a strong but not exclusive emphasis on international environmental governance, including climate negotiations. The ESPPA is a global center for researchers interested in the history of climate change policy, toxicity and native peoples, and the standout success story of stratospheric ozone diplomacy.

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