Region III Quarterly

Volume 2 - No. 2

April, 1940


When Stephen T. Mather, first Director of the National Park Service, was seeking an Assistant Director, in 1919, the obvious field of his search seemingly should have been among experienced park executives. He had propounded the idea, however, that parks and art are very closely related - that identifying and preserving park areas is in itself a high art. So he went to the National Commission of Fine Arts and chose that organization's Assistant Secretary, Arno B. Cammerer. That the choice was a wise one has been attested many times, including the 1938 award of the Pugsley Gold Medal to Mr. Cammerer for distinguished work in park development.

Mr. Cammerer rose from Assistant Director to Associate Director, and in August, 1933, he became Director. National Park Service activities have expanded tremendously under his dircetion. He has succeeded in maintaining national park standards by successfully resisting frequent efforts to include areas in the National Park System that cannot qualify for national park status. The national park idea, he has repeatedly pointed out, is the most effective implement for conservation of areas and objects of great intrinsic value to the nation.

"The park concept," he has said, "provides a new form of land use, humanly satisfying, economically justifiable, and with far-reaching social implications. Inherent in it is a new recognition of human values and a more intelligent method of commercial exploitation. As such, it is a progressive step in land utilization and must take its place along with the other great land-use techniques such as forestry, agriculture, and mining."

Mr. Cammerer was born on July 31, 1833, at Arapahoe, Nebraska. He attended elementary and preparatory schools in Harvard, Illinois, and was graduated from Georgetown University in 1911 with the degrees of L.L.B. and M.P.L. He entered the Government service in 1904 as an expert bookkeeper in the Treasury Department, remaining there in various capacities until 1910, when he became Assistant Secretary of the National Commission of Fine Arts, where he remained until 1919. While with the Fine Arts Commission, he acted as secretary of other commissions, including the Lincoln Memorial, the Public Building, and the Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Commissions. He is Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of the National Capital Park and Planning Commission, and a member of the District of Columbia Zoning Commision, the Washington Lincoln Memorial-Gettysburg Memorial Boulevard Commission, the National Park Trust Fund Board, the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania County Battlefields Memorial National Military Park Commission, and the Petersburg National Military Park Commission.

In 1936 Director Cammerer was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by Syracuse, University.

Arno B. Cammerer

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Date: 17-Nov-2005