There has been an ongoing discussion in our office on what purpose an administrative history serves. Is it a broad analysis of the creation, management, and future direction of a Park Service site, as seen from an "objective" viewpoint? Or should it be a compendium of details that the current managers of a site can easily access to help in day to day decisions? I have attempted to do a little of both with this volume on the administrative history of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Hopefully, it is a cohesive narrative and informative reference book which is also enjoyable to read.
The research for this history has led me in a number of directions that I suggest a future historian of Fort Vancouver pursue further. I was able to borrow files from the National Archives and Federal Records Center in San Bruno, California with the courteous assistance of Richard Boyden. I am sure that a more systematic research trip would reveal more detail for the development of Fort Vancouver during the 1960s. The Federal Records Center in Seattle also contained a wealth of information.
Oral interviews are, of course, invaluable for an administrative history. I was extremely lucky that some of the early participants in the creation of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site are still alive and kicking. For instance, Frank Hjort, the first superintendent, and Donald Stewart, the first president of the Fort Vancouver Restoration and Historical Society, were both kind enough to grant me interviews. I also received a lengthy and informative letter from John Hussey, father of all Fort Vancouver historians. With their help, I was able to bring the early years of this administrative history to life. However, time and budget constraints have kept interview and research time to a minimum. I hope that a future Fort Vancouver historian takes the time to search out participants such as Louis Caywood, Jake Hoffman, and Lester Ross.
It has been suggested that Fort Vancouver perhaps merits an Archaeological Administrative History separate from this volume. Bryn Thomas' recent overview of archaeological studies at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site comes close to fulfilling that need. His comments and insights into the last 20 years of archaeological excavations were extremely helpful to me in preparing this current history.
Besides those individuals mentioned above, I would also like to offer a hearty thanks to the many staff members at Fort Vancouver, especially Superintendent Dave Herrera, David Hansen, and Bob Appling, who helped me find materials, took time to answer my incessant questions, and, above all, showed me how much the history of their particular site means to them. I would also like to thank two past Fort Vancouver historians who most inadvertently inspired me: Jerry Wagers, for saving tidbits on notecards in hopes of writing his own administrative history, and Robert E.S. Clark, for compiling dozens of bound volumes of Park Service correspondence and superintendent's reports which otherwise might have been lost. Lastly, thanks to colleague David Louter, who, in preparing his administrative history on Craters of the Moon National Monument, broke much uncharted ground for those who followed. To all these individuals, both present and past, I dedicate this work.
Last Updated: 02-Feb-2000