Oral History at Zion

Oral history is one of the oldest and greatest historical tools of human society. Many groups of people collected their stories, traditions, and histories orally long before the invention of the written word. The National Park Service uses oral histories to protect and preserve cultural and natural resources through audio files, written records, and forward-thinking archival methods. Explore the oral history projects conducted by the National Park Service.

Zion National Park currently houses several oral history projects in its museum collections. They document a wide range of personal, community, and administrative histories of Zion Canyon. Explore these valuable resources at Zion and contact zion_museum@nps.gov for more information.

Zion Staff 1930s through 1940s
Zion National Park Staff from the late 1930s to the early 1940s, photo from the Karma Bills Collection.

Museum Catalog Number: ZION 12352 / Photo: ZION-304.03-05_06a

Pioneers of Zion Oral History Collection

In 1982, interviews were conducted by the Western Heritage Conservation, Inc. with over one hundred residents in the area. Many of the interviewees were direct descendants of early Mormon pioneers and previous park employees. This project was the first large scale oral history of Zion National Park. Materials include printed transcripts, audio cassettes, and photographs.

Group photo of former CCC enrollees
Group photo of former CCC enrollees who attended the September 1989 reunion hosted by the park. Museum Catalog Number: ZION 12350 / Folder: ZION 951/85-11

Civilian Conservation Corps 1989 Reunion Oral Histories

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt under the authority of the Emergency Conservation Work Act. The program was designed to give young, unemployed men opportunities to work in public land and gain professional skills during the Great Depression and employed approximately three million men over its nine years. In Zion, the CCC played an important role in the development and maintenance of the park. They spent nine years building and improving many of the Zion Canyon’s trails, creating parking areas, fighting fires, helping build campgrounds and park buildings, and reducing flooding of the Virgin River. During the reunion of the CCC in 1989, oral interviews were conducted at Zion to document their work and life in the park. Materials include written transcripts, audio cassettes, CDs, and photographs.


Pioneer Voices of Zion Canyon

Conducted in 2004, the goal of the project was to educate the public about the second and third generation settler experience within Zion Canyon and to provide an archival record of the cultural anthropology and history of the early pioneer settlers. The collection consists of materials and information from individuals who lived in and around Zion Canyon between 1910 and 1945. Materials include written and digitized transcripts, audio cassettes, CDs, and photographs. The oral histories and photographs are also available in a book entitled Pioneer Voices of Zion Canyon compiled by Eileen M. Smith-Cavros.

Telegram about creation of Zion National Park.

Find out more about the archival collections of Zion, Bryce Canyon, and Cedar Breaks.

Handcolored glass slide of bluebells and columbine flowers from Cedar Breaks National Monument

Explore the museum collections through these digitized materials.

A person and a horse stand in water in a slot canyon.

Learn more about the diverse peoples who have called Zion home for thousands of years.

Last updated: November 2, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Zion National Park
1 Zion Park Blvd.

Springdale, UT 84767


If you have questions, please email zion_park_information@nps.gov. Listen to recorded information by calling anytime 24 hours a day. Rangers answer phone calls from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT, but a ranger may not answer if they are already speaking with someone else.

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