The Forest Clerk: Poem

Sadly, I could find no photos of these women in the historical photos sites, if you have one, please send and I will post. Lots of photos of things, and people outside, and even buildings, but the clerk is invisible in the photos I could access from the internet.

Thanks to Les Joslin for this information: “The Forest Clerk” was written by Rita A. Castle and published in John D. Guthrie’s 1919 “The Forest Ranger and Other Verse.”


Who could relate the kinds of work
That fall to the lot of the Forest Clerk?
Record the things that she must do
Before she counts her day’s work through?

She opens the letters and reads the mail
From a grazer’s complaint to a timber sale;
She takes dictation as a matter of course
From the janitor up to the head of the force;
She bears the brunt of the office ire
And wears a smile as she pokes the fire;
Till frowns disappear and hearts grow strong.

And not the least of her many trials
Is keeping in mind all things in the files,
Which files she arranges day after day
For those who take out but don’t put away.
Accounts and disbursements must be kept well in hand,
As for errors in that line no DF will stand;
And so the poor Clerk must worry her brains,
And get little thanks for her efforts and pains.

She makes out reports and orders supplies
For the force in the office and Ranger likewise.
She straightens out claims and helps on the maps,
Reconnaissance, grazing, or boundaries, perhaps.
She answers the telephone forty times daily,
Welcomes all visitors and talks to them gaily,
E’en though on her desk the work stands knee deep,
And all must be finished before she can sleep.

The first of the year she turns her attention
To Accountability too awful to mention!
Then follow the things which before I have quoted
Though dozens of things I haven’t yet noted,
Such as corrals and fences and bridges and trails,
Telephone lines and great timber sales;
Fire prevention for tree preservation
To help Uncle Sam promote Conservation.

She tends all these duties in a businesslike way;

So when all’s said and done no critic can say
She doesn’t deserve, from the hands of the Nation,
The small sum she gets as due compensation.

5 thoughts on “The Forest Clerk: Poem”

  1. Sharon,

    The poem “The Forest Clerk” is by Rita A. Castle and was published in John D. Guthrie’s 1919 collection “The Forest Ranger and Other Verse” which was the first of two volumes of Forest Service verse from the era “when real men wrote poetry,”

    • I have had the privilege of knowing some great forest clerks. Who at times seem to know more about what was going on than anyone.

      • Me too. And many times provided the heart of the workplace. And whose contributions were undervalued in many places at many times. Is this still true today? What did the workplace lose when so many administrative folks (mostly women) were centralized. I am always mystified as to why the EEO analysis of centralizing administration did not appear to consider the impact on gender distribution.. who was likely to lose their jobs because they could/would not move. Efficiency sounds good, and I firmly believe in care for the tax dollar, but providing a quality workplace has ineffable heart and soul issues related. IMHO.

  2. Not all District Clerks were women. On the San Juan we had a younger man , I believe on the Dolores District in the late 60’s.

    I also knew District Clerks who could scale a small load of trees. Remarkable people.


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