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Book Cover
A Brief History Of The National Park Service




National Park Idea

Early Growth

NPS Created






Plans and Design





Historic Conservation

Land Planning

State Cooperation


Work Camps

Recreation Study




Antiquities Act

Organic Act

Historic Sites Act

Recreational-Area Programs Act



Extension of Duties

Since its establishment as a bureau of the Department of the Interior for the care and administration of the national park system, the duties and responsibilities of the National Park Service have been steadily extended by acts of Congress and Executive Orders. One of the most important of these was President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order of June 10, 1933 which effected consolidation, two months later, of all Federal park activities under the Service. This Order provided:

"All functions of administration of public buildings, reservations, national parks, national monuments and national cemeteries are consolidated in an Office of National Parks, Buildings, and Reservations in the Department of the Interior, at the head of which shall be a Director of National Parks, Buildings, and Reservations; except that where deemed desirable there may be excluded from this provision any public building or reservation which is chiefly employed as a facility in the work of a particular agency. This transfer and consolidation of functions shall include, among others, those of the National Park Service of the Department of the Interior, and the National Cemeteries and Parks of the War Department which are located within the continental limits of the United States. National cemeteries located in foreign countries shall be transferred to the Department of State, and those located in insular possessions under the jurisdiction of the War Department shall be administered by the Bureau of Insular Affairs of the War Department.

"The functions of the following agencies are transferred to the Office of National Parks, Buildings, and Reservations of the Department of the Interior, and the agencies are abolished:

Arlington Memorial Bridge Commission
Public Buildings Commission
Public Buildings and Public Parks of the National Capitol
National Memorial Commission
Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Commission

"Expenditures by the Federal Government for the purposes of the Commission of Fine Arts, the George Rogers Clark Sesquicentennial Commission, and the Rushmore National Commission shall be administered by the Department of the Interior."

National monuments formerly administered by the United States Forest Service were included in these transfers.

Although this Order designated the Service as the Office of National Parks, Buildings and Reservations, the original name "National Park Service" was restored in recognition of its prestige in the field of conservation, in the Act making appropriations for the Department of the Interior for the 1935 fiscal year. This was accomplished through the interest of Senator Carl Hayden of Arizona, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which had charge of the bill.

In accordance with the President's Executive Order, the Service was charged with maintenance of most of the Federal buildings in the National Capital, with the exception of certain buildings such as the Capitol, the main Treasury Building, Library of Congress, Government Printing Office, Supreme Court Building, and the National Bureau of Standards building. The Service also maintained a few Federal buildings outside the District of Columbia.

In order to fulfill these additional responsibilities, the Service separated the functions of the former Office of Public Buildings and Public Grounds into two distinct units, the Branch of Buildings Management and the office of National Capital Parks. The Branch of Buildings Management was coordinate with the other administrative branches of the Service, while National Capital Parks is a field unit comparable to the various national park units outside the District of Columbia.

On July 1, 1939, the Branch of Buildings Management was discontinued when the Public Buildings Administration was established under the Federal Works Agency to handle the operation of buildings.

Another important piece of legislation affecting the activities of the Service was the Act of Congress approved August 21, 1935, empowering the Secretary of the Interior, through the National Park Service, to conduct a Nation-wide survey of historic American sites, buildings, objects, and antiquities. This Act also made provisions for cooperative agreements with states and local and private agencies in the development and administration of historic areas of national interest, regardless of whether titles to the properties were vested in the United States.

A discussion of progress in historical conservation achieved under the Historic Sites Act will be given later. Prior to passage of the Historic Sites Act of 1955, the Historic American Buildings Survey was initiated, in December 1953, as a Civil Works Administration project, under agreement between the Secretary of the Interior and the Civil Works Administrator. Later authorized by Congress, it has been conducted in cooperation with the American Institute of Architects and financed successively by FERA, WPA, and PWA funds. The Survey has resulted in the collection of exact graphic records of more than 5,000 antique buildings and other structures, important historically or architecturally. This material is being filed by special arrangement with the Library of Congress among the pictorial American archives of the Library.

Extension of National Park Service activities into the field of cooperation with the states and local governments in the planning of recreational areas, facilities and programs was authorized by the Park, Parkway and Recreation Study Act approved June 25, 1956. Under this Act the Service is conducting the Park, Parkway and Recreational-Area Study (discussed in detail under the heading "State Cooperation").

So widespread have the activities of the Service become, particularly since cooperation with the states began under the CCC and emergency relief programs in 1933, that an administrative system of four regions has been established. Each region is in the charge of a Regional Director, as follows: Region I, Miner R. Tillotson, regional director, Richmond, Virginia; Region II, Thomas J. Allen, regional director, Omaha, Nebraska; Region III, John R. White, regional director, Santa Fe, New Mexico; Region IV, Frank A. Kittredge, regional director, San Francisco, California.

One of the most important aspects of the extended activities of the Service is the fact that although the Service is working in new fields and with funds coming from several sources, its enlarged personnel is no less a part of the organization in the traditional sense. This realization on the part of later appointees comes with the knowledge that the Service is a permanent bureau of a regularly established Department of the Government, and that no matter what phase of the program the individual is working on, it is an integral part of the whole program of the National Park Service.

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