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Calumet Regional Archives
CRA 113--Thomas Dustin Papers

CRA 113:Photographs




Revised February 2000
December 2009; May 2011


Mr. Thomas E. Dustin, former public relations director for the Save the Dunes Council, deposited the Dustin Collection in the Calumet Regional Archives on September 14, 1982.

Property rights in the collection are held by the Calumet Regional Archives; literary rights are dedicated to the public. There are no restrictions on access to the collection.

Linear feet of shelf space: 1O.00 linear feet. Number of containers: 13 boxes.
Calumet Regional Archives Collection 113

Processed by: Stephen McShane
Date: October-December, 1982


A valuable source for the study of environmental movements and the history of one of the most controversial issues in the Calumet Region, the Dustin Collection contains materials documenting the establishment and history of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore from 1955 to 1981. Records generated by the Save the Dunes Council, particularly the Council's public relations director, Thomas E. Dustin, constitute the collection. The collection comprises approximately four major record series: correspondence, press releases, testimony, and speeches, printed material, and newsclippings.

A significant and comprehensive series of Council correspondence (1958-1981) details the efforts of the Save the Dunes Council to convince legislators, corporate representatives, and the public of the wisdom of designating the Indiana Dunes as a national park. Correspondence encompasses not only Mr. Dustin's outgoing and incoming letters but also embraces Council newsletters, petitions, and reports. The correspondence identifies various parties and their views regarding the park proposal, such as Presidents of the United States, members of Congress, the U.S Department of the Interior officials, numerous wildlife and conservation groups, and the news media. Also, the series contains local industry views of the Dunes preservation campaign, particularly with a sub-series of correspondence focusing upon the issue of a Lake Michigan port plan at Burns Ditch in Porter County to boost the state's industrial growth. In addition, the correspondence provides information on Council planning and strategy, and includes documentation of the many bills presented in Congress to create an Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Later correspondence (1970-1981) records the problems of developing the park, defining a balance between public use and ecological preservation. Also, the recent correspondence highlights efforts to expand the Lakeshore in the 1970's and furnishes information on the Bailly nuclear plant controversy.

A second series including press releases, hearing testimony, and speeches (1959-1966) details the public campaign of the Save the Dunes Council to rally support for its cause. Press releases provide good documentation of the Council's media skills and complement the more thorough information recorded in the correspondence. The series retains rough drafts of reports, speeches, and releases as well as miscellaneous strategy notes of Council leaders. Speeches highlight the arguments used by the Council to preserve the Dunes while hearing testimony not only comprises proponents' views of the national lakeshore proposal, but also provides insight into opponents' opinions regarding a national park. The testimony includes statements by U.S. senators, corporation representatives, conservation groups, and private citizens before numerous Congressional committees in the early 1960's.

A large series of newsclippings (1958-1974), arranged chronologically, supplements the first two major series in the collection. Sources for the clippings include the Gary Post-Tribune, the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, the Valparaiso Vidette-Messenger, the Hammond Times, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune, along with several national magazines. The clippings provide additional information on the progress and problems involved in the Dunes controversy and encompass the viewpoint of the news media and local public opinion of the park-industrialization issues.

Finally, a large series of printed materials contains reports, studies, master plans, and other publications dealing with topics ranging from the ecology of the Dunes areas to uses of natural resources. Although these records contain minimal data on the Save the Dunes Council, this series is useful for persons interested in past environmental and recreational studies.

In addition to the four major series, the collection retains reports, correspondence, and some minutes from the Indiana Dunes Advisory Commission, created upon the establishment of the National Lakeshore in 1966. The Commission records detail issues such as park administration, property rezoning, nature studies, and engineering reports and reveals data on initial problems of the new lakeshore park. Also, the Dustin Collection embraces a small series of photographs, furnishing a visual record of the Dunes in the 1960's and 1970's. Finally, the collection contains a series of oversize material such as publicity items and maps.

Persons interested in the events leading up to the establishment of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore as well as initial administrative operations of the park will find useful materials in the Dustin Collection. Researchers should note that a brief history of the Dunes Lakeshore effort and a short biography of Thomas E. Dustin are located in Box 1, File Folder 1, and in the Lindsey Papers (CRA #118). The Calumet Regional Archives retains additional collections related to local environmental movements including the Bailly Alliance Records (CRA #23), the Edward Newell Papers (CRA #64), the James Newman Papers (CRA #73), the Community Action to Reverse Pollution Records (CRA #99), the A.A. Lindsey Papers (CRA #118), and the Save the Dunes Council Records (CRA #149).


In 1952, Mrs. Dorothy Buell of Ogden Dunes, Indiana, founded the Save the Dunes Council. As the Council's first president, Mrs. Buell declared that the Indiana Dunes areas along Lake Michigan exhibited a unique natural and ecological environment and deserved preservation from potential industrial development. Along with several other local residents, Mrs. Buell began a fifteen year campaign to "save the Dunes." While the Council organized plans, developed strategy, and recruited volunteers, a movement to establish a Lake Michigan harbor at Burns Ditch developed simultaneously, following the creation of the St. Lawrence Seaway. By the late 1950's, two opposed viewpoints regarding the proper use of the Indiana Dunes areas had arisen to provide both Indiana and the entire nation with one of the most controversial issues of the 1960's.

Although the Council attempted to obtain the support of Indiana public officials, most Indiana legislators believed that a port complex would result in greater economic growth for the state. The Council did receive, however, the backing of Illinois Senator Paul Douglas, and the senator from Illinois became the leading public figure to sponsor a Dunes national lakeshore. In addition to Douglas, the Council welcomed the talents of several local volunteers. First, attorney Edward Osann represented the Council in legal proceedings. Herbert Read, a local architect, headed a team of engineers to study and analyze the economic and engineering feasibility of the Burns Ditch port proposal. Finally, Thomas E. Dustin directed the public relations activities of the Council from 1958 to 1966, using his publicity skills to further the Council's cause. Dustin graduated from Iowa State University as a technical journalist and became president of a Fort Wayne advertising firm, Engineering Writers. As an active conservationist and naturalist, Dustin promoted the Council's goals to create a Dunes national park during the most controversial period in the Council's history. In addition, the Council obtained the support of natural scientists and economic advisors as the campaign to save the Dunes gained momentum.

When the Council presented a report to the U.S. Budget Bureau declaring an unfavorable cost/benefit ratio for a Burns Ditch port, the Dunes supporters received backing from several prominent public officials, including the Kennedy Administration. The Council's volunteers intensified the publicity campaign, writing letters to Congressmen, newspapers editors, conservationists, scientists, and concerned citizens, speaking before community groups, and testifying before numerous Congressional committees. Finally, in 1964, legislators proposed a park-port compromise bill, comprising a federally funded port project tied to a provision for a Dunes national park to secure passage. Senators Birch Bayh and Vance Hartke of Indiana joined Senator Douglas in sponsoring the compromise bill, and the Senate passed the package in 1965, sending the bill to the House of Representatives. With the backing of Indiana Congressmen Roush and Madden and Arizona's Morris Udall, the 89th Congress authorized the establishment of a 5,800 acre Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore in October, 1966. Thomas Dustin served as the first president of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Advisory Commission created to administer the new park.

In later years, the Save the Dunes Council worked to expand the park, and the Congress added significant parcels to the original Lakeshore. In 1976, Congress preserved 3,600 acres while President Carter signed a Dunes bill in December, 1980, adding 488 acres to the Lakeshore. Today, thirty years after Dorothy Buell founded the Save the Dunes Council, the Council continues to work for preservation of a 720 acre "Green Belt" adjacent to the park. Thomas Dustin, one of the most influential volunteers in the Save the Dunes movement, later summed up the feeling among his fellow conservationists as he noted, "... inland, in the troughs between the dunes, there will be this island of grace even after the megalopolis has completed its rush around the lower Great Lakes from Milwaukee to Buffalo."


1 1 Historical Information,1961, 1965
  1a Article, “The Battle of the Indiana Dunes,” by Thomas E. Dustin, in Citizens Make the Difference: Case Studies of Environmental Action, 1973
  2 Save the Dunes Council Policy Statements, 1960
  3-21 Correspondence, 1958-1962
2 1-23 Correspondence, 1962-1965
3 1-18 Correspondence, 1966-1976
Box # of Reels Description
12 1 reel Dustin rebuttal to Capehart, ca.1962
1 reel Herb Read on "Cross Exam" show, November 12, 1962
1 reel Save the Dunes Council dinner, November 2, 1962
1 reel Dustin rebuttal to Governor Welsh tax campaign for port, ca. 1962
2 reels Save the Dunes program, Studs Terkel radio show, ca. 1965
13 1 reel Dustin interview, ca. 1963
1 reel Dustin-Nelson debate, September 3, 1962
2 reels Homer Capehart, April 30, 1962; Dustin reply, May 3, 1962

Series: Oversize
Drawer Item # Description
2 1 Magazine articles, 1943, (1960-1976)
2 2 Maps, (24), (1959-1980)
2 3 Publicity materials, (1958-1974)
2 4 Singing Sands Almanac, 1978-1979
2 5 Boundary maps, 1959, 1971, 1976

Subject Tracings

  • Bayh, Birch
  • Burns Harbor
  • Capehart, Homer
  • Community organizations
  • Conservation
  • Douglas, Paul
  • Economic Development Projects
  • Environment
  • Hartke, Vance
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore
  • Indiana Dunes State Park
  • Industry
  • Lake County -- Economic Development
  • Lake Michigan
  • Port of Indiana
  • Porter County -- Economic Development
  • Roush, Edward
  • Steel
  • Welsh, Matthew