NPS History Resources

Although the NPS History Collection includes a wealth of information about the bureau's history, employees, and issues related to Service-wide management of natural and cultural resources, other repositories also have relevant materials for research into NPS history.

The following list includes additional resources and collections for those interested in researching NPS history. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it an endorsement of any institution or commercial service. It is provided for research purposes only. Users are responsible for any applicable research, reproduction, or licensing fees.

All links are accurate as of 1/13/2020. Please report broken links to the archivist to keep this resource up to date for all researchers.

  • A Directory of Oral History in the National Park Service: Summary of oral histories in park and NPS repository museum archives.
  • Alaska Park Science: Reports information from on-going and recently completed research in and around Alaska’s national parklands
  • Common Ground: Archeology and Ethnology in the Public Interest
  • HFC Commissioned Art Collection: Artwork commissioned for NPS park brochures, exhibits, films, and other media.
  • Midwest Archeological Center Publications: This website provides electronic copies of archeological and technical reports, special reports, and occasional studies undertaken by archeologists in the NPS Midwest Region parks.
  • National Register of Historic Places: The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. State Historic Preservation Offices (SHPOs) and the National Archives also have relevant records.
  • Natural Resources Publication Series: Online access to NPS natural resources reports, data, and technical report series.
  • NPS Cultural Resource Management Journal: Electronic access to the CRM Bulletin (1978-1990), CRM (1991-2002), and CRM: the Journal of Heritage Stewardship (2003-2011).
  • NPGallery: The NPGallery Digital Asset Management System is an enterprise system for storing, organizing, and sharing photos and other digital files. NPGallery's central online repository offers a place for the NPS to store digital assets, including photos, illustrations, audio files, videos, and documents.
  • NPS Historical Handbooks: Selection of park-specific historical handbooks.
  • NPS Integrated Resource Management Applications (IRMA): IRMA is a web-based portal for data and information related to National Park Service natural and cultural resources.
  • NPS Library Information Center: Online catalog for NPS library collections. Many NPS libraries offer interlibrary loans services.
  • NPS Maps: Downloadable maps of NPS areas prepared by Harpers Ferry Center cartographers.
  • NPS Natural History Handbooks: Selection of historical titles available for download.
  • NPS Stats: Statistics regarding visitor use in individual parks.
  • NPS Technical Information Center: TIC’s database and collection contains documents and drawings that are utilized in the planning, development, construction, modification, and repair of buildings and facilities in the parks. Planning, resource management, and development type documents establish guidelines for the overall use, preservation, management, and development of areas within NPS.
  • NPS Web Catalog: Selected highlights from park museum collections and archives are available on the web catalog
  • Park Collections: Most parks have their own museum collections and archives. Regional repositories of park collections also exist. The collections are park-specific and address the historical, cultural, and natural resources within a given park’s boundaries or relevant to the park’s enabling legislation. Although some parks have finding aids available online, many do not. There is no one central access point and some collections may not be cataloged yet. To access park collections, search for specific park names at www.nps.gov and view the contact information.
  • Park Histories: NPS website featuring online copies of administrative histories and historic and cultural studies prepared for individual parks.
  • Park Science: Research and resource management journal of the U.S. National Park Service.
  • State of the Park Reports
Federal Depository Library Program: FDL provides free access to Federal Government information.

Government Printing Office: GPO’s Government Bookstore has copies of NPS reports, junior ranger books, park handbooks, travel posters, and maps available for purchase.

Interior Museum: Includes objects and archives regarding NPS History and its role within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Library of Congress
Library of Congress holds the papers of many early presidents, as well as notable historical figures associated with NPS units, such as Ansel Adams, Booker T. Washington, Fredrick Law Olmstead, Artist Gutzon Borglum, Clara Barton, Frederick Douglass, and the Wright Brothers. Various folklife projects also relate to specific parks (e.g. Blue Ridge Parkway, Lowell, etc.) Papers of various government officials in the LOC holdings also contain relevant materials. Below is a small selection of NPS-related records at the Library of Congress. Researchers are encouraged to contact the LOC directly for other relevant materials.

  • Mapping the National Parks: Documents the history, cultural aspects and geological formations of areas that eventually became National Parks.
National Archives and Records Administration (NARA): The NPS Records are principally found in NARA’s Record Group 79. However, other relevant record groups exist and will vary depending upon the park/area of interest. Some of the relevant record groups are listed below:
Online inventories of NPS records in the National Archives include: NARA also manages the Presidential Libraries.

Smithsonian Institution Archives: Includes records regarding MOUs between NPS and Smithsonian, the river basin surveys, and events and festivals on the National Mall. Also includes records relating to individual parks, including surveys of archeological and natural resources.
Clemson University
Open Parks Network: A partnership between Clemson University and the National Park Service, this digital gallery features rare and unique material from the archives of the country’s national parks, historic sites and battlefields. https://openparksnetwork.org/

NPS Director’s Papers: Clemson University Libraries Special Collections includes records from eight NPS directors. Finding aids for these papers are available online. Montana State University Library
Stanford University Libraries
University of Arkansas Libraries
University of California
Bancroft Library Charles E. Young Research Library Museum of Vertebrate Zoology Archives, UC-Berkeley University of Maryland Libraries Special Collections and University Archives
University of Michigan
Bentley Historical Library University of Wyoming
American Heritage Center
Many state archives have records relevant to NPS History. Researchers will need to contact repositories individually and/or conduct separate online searches by state. Some states have material available online, for example: In addition to the general online resources of the type described above, state archives also include special collections
Pennsylvania State Archives:
Denver Public Library’s Conservation Collection: Organizations such as The Wilderness Society, The Student Conservation Association, The National Parks Conservation Association, American Farmland Trust and The Nature Conservancy and others have donated papers to the DPL. Individuals have also contributed papers, memos and writings. Examples related to the NPS include Enos Mills, S. Herbert Evison, Dwight Pitcaithley, and Roger W. Toll.
National Park Service History eLibrary: Although this free digital repository is not affiliated with the NPS, it provides access to electronic publications covering the history of the NPS and the cultural and natural history of the national parks, monuments, and historic sites of the U.S. National Park System.

Winterthur Library: The Joseph Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Printed Ephemera includes the William Seale’s Papers (he worked for the NPS at the White House).

Forest History Society Library and Archives: Includes the Redwood National Park Collection, 1926-1980.

Life Picture Collection: Includes images taken by Life Magazine photographers at national parks. Most photos were never published in the magazine. Contact their archivist for more information about the collection.

Sherman Grinberg Film Library: Home of the historic Paramount and American Pathe newsreels, which include films at national parks.

Ansel Adams Gallery: Adams’ iconic images from Yosemite National Park.

The Mather Homestead: The family home of the first NPS Director Stephen T. Mather, the museum includes objects, photos, and documents related to Mather and his family.
ArchiveGrid: ArchiveGrid contains records describing archival materials from over 1,000 institutions. Search their database for relevant names or subjects.

Online Archives of California (OAC): OAC provides access to information about materials in over 200 libraries, special collections, archives, historical societies, and museums throughout California, including the University of California’s campuses.

Social Networks and Archival Context: SNAC is a free, online resource for biographical and historical information about persons, families, and organizations that created or are documented in historical resources around the world.

Last updated: January 21, 2020