Wilderness advocate and forester Robert Marshall was born in New York on January 2, 1901. He graduated from the College of Forestry at Syracuse University in 1924, earned a master's degree at Harvard University on 1925, and a Ph.D. at the John Hopkins Laboratory of Plant Physiology in 1930.
Marshall began his professional career on the staff of the U.S. Forest Service in 1925 as a junior forester as the Northern Rocky Mountain Forest Experiment Station. In 1933 Marshall became the head forester of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and in 1937 the Chief of the Division of Recreation and Lands for the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to Arctic Village, he was the author of The People's Forests (1933), Alaska Wilderness (published posthumously in 1956), and numerous influential articles and government reports on wilderness and forestry. He was well known for his long distance hiking trips and his outspoken support of the need to perserve wilderness. As one of the founding members of the Wilderness Society in 1935, he was for many years its major financial contributor.
Robert Marshall died of heart failure at age 38 on November 11, 1939, while asleep on a train from New York to Washington. Shortly afterwards the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana of nearly one million acres was named in his honor. As Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes said at the time of Marshall's death, "The wilderness areas he worked so hard to perpetuate reamin as his monuments."