Women have long been involved with the history of the National Park Service. Here you can explore the stories of some of these historic women and the times and places where they laid the foundation for the NPS.
Part of the history of the National Park Service also includes men, women, and children dispossessed of their homes and property (including Native Americans and Japanese Americans), as well as those excluded from park areas and programs because they were Black. You can find a list of references to explore these stories near the bottom of the page.
Breeches and BlousesA Brief History of Women in the NPS
Learn about some of the early women working for the NPS, and the history of the uniform for women.
Early GeologistFlorence Bascom
An early geologist, and one of the first women to work professionally, Florence surveyed Mount Desert Island, Acadia National Park.
National Park Service DirectorMary Bomar
Mary Bomar was the 17th Director of the National Park Service, serving from 2006 to 2009.
Landscape Designer and GardenerBeatrix Farrand
As a landscape gardener (which she preferred over landscape architect), Beatrix did work at Dumbarton Oaks, Acadia, and the White House.
Early ArchaeologistVirginia Sutton Harrington
Virginia was the first woman to work for the NPS with the title of Ranger Historian. Her work at Jamestown shaped the field of archaeology.
National Park Service DirectorFran P. Mainella
Fran P. Mainella was the first woman to serve as Director of the National Park Service. She served from 2001 to 2006.
Early ArchaeologistAnn Axtell Morris
An archaeologist, Ann worked in several National Parks in the 1920s and 1930s. Her methods for documenting the past are still used.
Employee Profile and Oral HistoryTina Short
Ms. Tina Short was one of the first African American Park Rangers in the Washington, DC area.
Employee Profile and Oral HistoryArdra Tarbell
Ardra Tarbell worked at Acadia National Park from 1930 until 1969.
Some places to start learning about the people (including women) who were removed from their homes and lands in the creation of National Parks:
- Kantor, Isaac (2007) "Ethnic Cleansing and America's Creation of National Parks." Public Land and Resources Law Review, Vol. 28.
- Miles, Kathryn (2019) "Shenandoah National Park is Confronting Its History." Outside Online, September 23, 2019.
- Mock, Brentin (2016) "The US National Park Service Grapples with its Racist Origins." CityLab, August 26, 2016.
- Shumaker, Susan (c2005). "Segregation in the National Parks," Untold Stories from America's National Parks. PBS.
- Spence, Mark David (2000). Disposessing the Wilderness: Indian Removal and the Making of the National Parks. Oxford University Press.