The Founding Fathers Of Survivalism (Updated)

The modern survivalist movement has been influenced by a number of people. But a select group of influential authors and speakers have virtually shaped or perhaps created the modern survivalist movement. This article is dedicated those special people, those founding fathers of survivalism.

*Note, this list is in no particular order

  1. Mel Tappan
  2. Howard Ruff
  3. Don Stephens
  4. Joel Skousen
  5. Cresson Kearny
  6. Ragnar Benson
  7. Bruce D. Clayton
  8. Jeff Cooper (colonel)
  9. Kurt Saxon
  10. James Wesley Rawles

1. Mel Tappan

Mel Tappan began his career collaborating with other members of the survivalist movement. Co-authoring a book and writing a small column for “Guns & Ammo” magazine in the 70’s. He is best known for his book Survival Guns which is still in print today, 32 years later. However, despite his popularity we couldn’t manage to find a single image, video or audio clip of Mel. Mel encouraged his readers to relocate away from metropolitan areas as a part of their survival strategy. Mel was once quoted by the Associated Press as saying:

“The concept most fundamental to long term disaster preparedness, in retreating, is having a safe place to go to avoid the concentrated violence destined to erupt in the cities. When you have a growing apprehensive awareness that the time grows short for you to relocate away from areas of greatest danger, then choose [where you will live] carefully.”

Unfortunately Mel passed away in 1988 but his legacy will continue to live on with the admiration and weight his name currently carries. His wife, Nancy Mack was one of his biggest supporters and continued his work for a number of years.

Books written by Mel Tappan:

Source

2. Howard Ruff

Howard Ruff

Howard Ruff is another one of the original Survivalists who entered the scene in the 1970’s. Drawing on his experience in financial advising, he has written several books focusing on financial preparedness topics. He has been known to encourage investing in precious metals and food storage, rather than traditional stocks and bonds. Although he may not have a household name, Ruff has been fighting for sound economics for a lifetime. He recently appeared on MSNBC to speak about the fragility and possible threats to the current US economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Through his books, speaking and other engagements, Howard has become one of the foremost pioneers of sound economic principles as related to self sufficiency.

“It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark.”
Howard Ruff

Books written by Howard Ruff:

Source

3. Don Stephens

Don Stephens entered the Survivalist scene in the 1960’s with concerns about a possible financial collapse (which seemed to be the trend at the time). H A strong proponent of relocation, Don used the knowledge gained studying architecture at University of Idaho Don has written many great books on eco friendly, self sustaining home designs and living as well as contributing to many others works (including working with Mel Tappan). An influcencer, a thought leader and an innovator are just a few ways to describe Don Stephens.

Books written by Don Stephens:

Source

4. Joel Skousen

Joel Skousen

Joel Skousen is a political commentator, former Marine and survivalist author. His non-fiction books mainly focus around homes, land and security. Joel has been a huge preparedness advocate since his early adulthood and he’s still fighting the good fight today, appearing on many major news stations.Joel tows the line between generations, helping spread wisdom from past generations to the newer generations.

Books Written By Joel Skousen:

Source

5. Cresson Kearny

Cresson Kearny

Cresson was a popular survivalist author, writing most notably “Nuclear War Survival Skills”. Cresson server in military and government positions for his entire life, which gave him incredible expertise in military and technical aspects of survival. His works have been a staple of survivalist reading and have hugely impacted the education level of survivalists (especially with nuclear information). Sadly Cresson passed away in 2003. His daughter commented

“Throughout his life he believed in being prepared for trouble.”

Books written by Cresson Kearny:

Source

6. Ragnar Benson

Ragnar Benson is actually the pen name of an author who has written some of the most dangerous books available. Ragnar was considered dangerous because of his exposing works on munitions, explosives, “mantrapping”, creating new identities and more. Despite the controversies associated with his work, his writings had a powerful impact in the survivalism movement. Much of his work is focused around living an independent life and escaping the trapping of modern government/society. If you don’t own at least one Ragnar book your survival library is incomplete!

To this day at age 72, Ragnar is still active in Survivalism, recently writing the book Long-Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age: Preparing to Live After Society Crumbles.

Books written by Ragnar Benson:

Source

7. Bruce D. Clayton

Bruce D. Clayton

Bruce D. Clayton, Ph.D., a black belt in the sixth degree, is a scientist, writer, and teacher who gained popularity with his book “Life After Doomsday” in the 1980’s. He is the author of over a dozen books on survival and self-defense, including the revolutionary Shotokan’s Secret from Black Belt Books. Shotokan’s Secret has been called a

“manifesto for a modern revolution in the way martial arts are learned and taught.”

Books written by Bruce Clayton:

Source

8. Jeff Cooper (colonel)

Jeff Cooper

Colonel Cooper was an actual Colonel who pioneered many shooting techniques, especially for small arms. In his life Cooper was a gun advocate, helping teach others how to use guns and even creating the American Pistol Institute located in Arizona. Additionally, Cooper invented The Combat Color Code (mentioned here), a code based upon situational awareness.

The will to survive is not as important as the will to prevail… the answer to criminal aggression is retaliation. – Jeff Cooper

As of 2006 Cooper is no longer with us RIP.

Books written by Jeff Cooper:

From His Books

Source

9. Kurt Saxon

Kurt Saxon

Kurt Saxon is one of the first “survivalists”, so much so he claims to have invented the term “survivalist”. Gaining fame in the 1970’s with his popular book “The Poor Man’s James Bond“, Kurt has had an impact on the modern survivalist movement in ways most of us don’t realize. Having grown up during the Great Depression, Kurt was somewhat of an expert on surviving on a budget. Many of his publications offer various tips and do-it-yourself guides on topics ranging from home medicines to home made self-defense weapons. If you are interested in survival and preparedness, chances are you have most likely read something reflecting the views and knowledge of Kurt Saxon. Kurt was in many ways a philosopher, speaking loudly his ideals of societal structure and it’s inevitable failure. To really get a feel for who Kurt Saxon is, read A Philosophy For Survivalists.

Kurt is still active and teaching survivalism in Alpena, Arkansas.

Books written by Kurt Saxon:

Source

**Disclaimer, We know that Rawles isn’t a “founding father” of survivalism and is instead a significant figure in the movement. However his impact cannot be ignored and deserves an honorable mention from us.

10. James Wesley Rawles

James Wesley Rawles

James Wesley Rawles is perhaps the most famous Survivalist of our time. He is the author and editor of www.survivablog.com, which has become a staple in the online survivalist community. His blog offers a plethora of information on survival topics from food storage and gardening to do-it-yourself survival shelters. He has set himself apart in the industry by offering a comprehensive guide on the best places to relocate to avoid disaster, and offering private retreat consulting by phone from his North Idaho home. His book “Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse” was one of my personal favorites and interestingly enough, some of the scenarios Rawles sets forward in his book are beginning to come to pass today. Many of us who currently know Rawles would say that he has become, in many ways, the modern archetype for survivalists. He has been one of the major players in the modern survivalist movement for the last several years, drawing fans and readers from varying backgrounds and demographics.

Books written by James Rawles:


Source

About The Author

Survival Spot is dedicated to helping everyone learn to be prepared. No matter what happens you can be ready.

11 Responses

    • Survivalspot

      James Stevens certainly has done a lot to influence survivalism and were the list longer he would've definitely been included. His book is a staple (I don't know anyone close family or friends the DON"T have his book), no doubt about it.

      Reply
  1. Jerry

    What is this order of "Founding Fathers of Survivalism"?

    It doesn't make any sense. Mel Tappan, JefF Cooper, and Kurt Saxon should be at the top of this list!!

    While Jim Rawles IS THE MODERN Patron Saint of Survivalism, he WAS NOT one of the founding fathers!!

    Reply
    • Survivalspot

      Thanks for the comment Jerry. The list is in no particular order (definitely not in order of importance). I feel as the modern survivalist movement (by that I mean the last 10-20 years) would not be what it is today without Rawles, thus the founding father status.

      Reply
  2. smkymtn prepper

    JWR has no place on the list. Everything he has written or talked about is older rehashed material that has been around. The people that write into his blog do more writing than he does.

    Reply
  3. MadMamma

    I agree with smkmtn prepper. While Rawles has built a name for himself in the modern survivalist movement he definately doesn't deserve to be listed as a "Founding Father". His blog isn't even that great, it's hard to read and like prepper points out, he doesn't even write any of it! I started reading one of his books but quickly put it down after I realized it was nothing more than a rambling weapons tutorial disguised as a non-fiction novel with sprinkles of Christian bias.

    Reply
  4. FrozenGBear

    JWR may not be a true founding father, but he is a very important figure in today's survivalism movement. It is unrealistic to expect one person to have the expertise to be able to write on everything from primitive skills to advanced technologies. So the value of Survivalblog.com and JWR, is to present vital information from contributors who are experts in their various fields. JWR sorts through tons of data, info, and sources to bring only the essential info to the blog's readers, saving us a lot of time and effort from having to separate "the wheat from the chaff" ourselves. Also, JWR has done ALOT to move survivalism into the mainstream to a point where those of us who practice and promote preparedness are no longer considered tin-foil hat wearing wackos by the misguided media of today. While JWR may not be everyone's personal favorite survivalist, I am a strong supporter of what he has contributed.

    Reply
  5. Lucas_SurvCache

    Great List. I need to read up some more on a couple of these guys.

    How come Bear Grylls isn't included? (Just kidding)

    Seriously though, what about Ray Mears? He's been in the business for 30 years, and publishing books since 1990.

    Reply
  6. m.d. creekmore

    Just a quick correction – Ragnar Benson did not write "Long-Term Survival in the Coming Dark Age" he wrote a forward to the book, but the title was written by James Ballou.

    Also, I agree with MadMamma and the other commenters, Rawles is no more a "founding father" of survivalism than I am.

    Reply
  7. Josiah

    I liked most of the list, and I’m somewhat amused by the anti rawles comments. I’m also somewhat curious about the mention of Kurt Saxon. I was into prepping pretty serious for a couple years before I bothered to look him up after seeing his name mentioned a time or two. I really wish I hadn’t bothered. The man is like spiritual poison and is best avoided.

    Reply
  8. desertdood

    Regarding "Modern Survivalism" No list would be complete without JACK SPIRKO (Haven't heard of him? thesurvivalpodcast.com) he lives on his bug out land in Arkansas, he started out in the City (Dallas-Ft Worth area) in Texas … I mean he started his " the survivalpodcast" on his morning commutes. He's more into the right here, right now, let's do and use this knowledge and stuff right now. I like how he talks about not having to have a calamitous SHTF scenario, but more than likely we will experience very personal shtf scenarios (like job loss etc).

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.