In 1951 the National Park Service (NPS) launched the
concept of developing a documented history for each unit of the national
park system. Known since 1964 as "park" histories, the studies were to
be general in scope, spanning the history of each area with emphasis on
park origin, legislation, visitor use, and all aspects of
Although sporadic research on local area history was
done by the NPS in the 1950's and early 1960's, comprehensive research
studies that finally led to a park history for Badlands National
Monument did not start until 1964. In that year Ray H. Mattison, former
Visitor Services Coordinator and Historian for the Midwest Region of the
NPS, began the project by selecting some 300 pages of reference
materials from the National Archives. Additional bibliographical
materials were located in the Congressional Record, NPS
historical files, and elsewhere. Former Chief Park Naturalist Robert A.
Grom of Badlands National Monument did much in gathering photographs,
maps, and historical data, and in writing additions and revising parts
of the various drafts prepared by Mattison. By the end of 1965 a
manuscript was completed, but publication was delayed. Mattison retired
from the NPS in 1965 and Grom was transferred in May 1966.
In 1967 more historical evidence came to light which
resulted in the editing, updating, and expanding of the 1965 manuscript.
Much of this work was done by Joanne W. Stockert, wife of the Chief Park
Naturalist. Copies of all documents and references not found locally but
which were used as bibliography in the final manuscript were obtained
for the files or library of Badlands National Monument. For those who
are interested in learning how this national monument has evolved to the
present time, the Badlands Natural History Association has published
this history with the hope that it will provide a basic source of
historical information on Badlands National Monument.
John W. Stockert
Natural History Association
February 19, 1968