Mary Sinclair


Mary Sinclair


Environmental Activism


Amy French

Birth Date



Minnesota, United States of America

Death Date




Biographical Text

Mary Sinclair (nee Palcich) had a career at the Library of Congress before moving to Midland, MI to work as a technical researcher at the Dow Chemical Company. Her career also included work as a technical writer for the Atomic Energy Commission. In the late 1960s, she opposed a nuclear power plant on the shores of Lake Michigan. Although she lost that battle, she won a fight for environmental safety when stood against a nuclear power plant in Midland, MI. The debate divided the community, but Sinclair continued on. She even debated nuclear power safety with the Vice-President of Consumers Power Co. in 1974. Originally, Consumers had projected that a nuclear power plant to supply energy to Dow Chemical Co. would cost $257 million and be completed in 1972, but the completion date and cost continued to rise. (Midland Daily News, January 15, 2011) Her efforts to raise awareness about Midland's proposed nuclear power plant inspired lasting dedication to protect the environment through the creation of Lone Tree Council. According to Terry Miller (an inaugural member of the group): "Mary raised everyone's consciousness with her grasp of the technical problems, and the human and environmental threats posed by the facility." After her talk, several members including Terry stayed around and decided to march in formal protest--that group inaugurated the Lone Tree Council. Over 5000 people showed up to the 1979 march, including Michael Moore's Huron Alliance. In a conservative community like Midland, this was a major coup. The battle for environmental justice was won when, in 1984, Dow Chemical "abandoned the nuclear reactor site after $4.1 billion and 17 years of effort." (New York Times, December 8, 1992)

Sinclair was honored as one of Ms. Magazine's "Twelve Women of the Year" (1984). She earned the honor of being inducted into Michigan's Women's Hall of Fame, as well as being profiled on CBS' "60 Minutes" in 1985. Sinclair taught an Energy and the Environment course at the University of Michigan from 1973-1978. She earned her Ph.D. in Environmental Communications from that university at the age of 75. Sinclair was persecuted for her beliefs, but is a shining example of how one woman can make a difference.


Breton, Mary Jo. Women Pioneers for the Environment. (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1998).

Garland, Anne Witte. Women Activists: Challenging the Abuse of Power. (New York: Feminist Press: City University of New York, 1988).

Parsons, Renee. "No Nukes and Intervening Women," Huffington Post, April 16, 2012.

Sinclair, Mary. Papers. Bentley Library. Ann Arbor, MI.

Wald, Matthew. "Battling Nuclear Waste in Michigan," New York Times, December 8, 1992.


Mary Sinclair.jpg
Date Added
January 7, 2015
Local (Michigan)
Item Type
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Amy French, “Mary Sinclair,” Women Who Dared, accessed July 16, 2024,