To Provide for the Enjoyment for Future Generations: The First 100 Years of the NPS

A group of people stand in front of a building at Acadia National Park
A group of NPS staff and others stand outside the office of Acadia National Park. Date unknown.

National Park Service

Article by Linda Rosenblum, Katherine Orr, and Nicholas R. Murray, 2016

In 2016, the National Park Service will be celebrating its 100th birthday. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Organic Act creating the National Park Service, a federal bureau in the Department of the Interior. This act states, “the Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of Federal areas known as national parks, monuments and reservations…which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

To commemorate that milestone, the National Park Service is planning its Centennial, with a goal of connecting with and creating the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates. The National History Day theme for 2016, Exploration, Encounter, Exchange in History, provides a unique opportunity for students and teachers to engage in the many stories and primary resources preserved by the National Park Service and join in the Centennial commemoration.

The history of the National Park Service actually begins before the Organic Act of 1916. As early as the 1830s, concern arose over the settlement of the western territories and the impact of westward expansion on wilderness, wildlife, and Native American populations. [Read more...]