Smokey Bear Story

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Primary Category: Fed Doc of the Month

U.S. Federal Document of the Month
May 2010
Written by Charmaine Henriques

Title: Smokey Bear Story/La Historia del Oso Smokey
Agency: United States Department of Agriculture
Call Number: A 1.68:1951/SPAN-ENG.

As with most countries, the United States has many symbols: Uncle Sam who famously appeared on an Army recruiting poster, Justice who is most commonly portrayed as a blindfolded woman carrying a sword and a set of scales, and represents the fair and equal administration of the law, and the Bald Eagle (the national bird) which stands for strength, courage, freedom, and immortality. However, one of the most enduring symbols that became a part of American society was first created as the centerpiece for a public service campaign in 1944 and May's U.S. Federal Document of the Month recounts his story; he is Smokey Bear.

Smokey Bear Story/La Historia del Oso Smokey is a darling book that recounts the tale on how a small bear cub became the symbol for fire prevention. The book has nice engaging colorful illustrations and is bilingual; therefore it can reach a larger audience. It is targeted for children from pre-kindergarten to first grade with the obvious purpose of teaching them about fire prevention. There are interesting facts that are presented such as: Smokey Bear's birthday is on August 9, 1944, he has his own website with fun activities to do at:, and unfortunately even today 9 out of 10 wildfires are caused by human reckless behavior. A teacher's page is provided at the end of Smokey Bear Story/La Historia del Oso Smokey as well as additional resources about fire prevention.

In 1952 when U.S. Congress passed the Smokey Bear Act which recognized Smokey Bear as the symbol for fire prevention I am sure they did not realize how ingrained he would be in the American conscience and remember "Only YOU can prevent wildfires."

Posted by

Sui Zhang