National Parks
The American Experience
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Supplementary Bibliographical Note

The following is intended to introduce important secondary literature written since publication of the first edition of National Parks. The notes again provide a more comprehensive listing and description of the sources used in the revision.

A provocative new history of the first national park is Yellowstone: A Wilderness Besieged, by Richard A. Bartlett (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1985). In contrast to previous studies of the park, Bartlett closely examines the life and times of the Yellowstone visitor, manager, and concessionaire, noting the impact of their presence on park wildlife and habitat. Equally provocative is Susan R. Schrepfer, The Fight to Save the Redwoods: A History of Environmental Reform, 1917-1978 (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983). Schrepfer also focuses on the people behind the preservation movement, specifically, on the ideological differences that split the Sierra Club and the Save-the-Redwoods League to the detriment of a national park that was biologically as well as scenically whole. Based largely on personal papers, oral interviews, and other primary materials, Schrepfer's work, like Bartlett's, is certain to become a standard in the field.

Other histories of individual parks include C. W. Buchholtz, Rocky Mountain National Park: A History (Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1983). Again, Buchholtz goes beyond the history of park establishment to include important information on major resource controversies. Similarly, Douglas H. Strong, Tahoe: An Environmental History (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984), concentrates on water quality, air pollution, urban sprawl, and other land-use problems affecting the establishment and maintenance of wilderness parks. To be sure, although Lake Tahoe is not a national park, it has been seriously considered for one. As a result, Strong's book provides additional insight into the reasons why otherwise worthy landscapes are still often denied protection in the national park system.

Another model study in this regard is Kay Franklin and Norma Schaeffer, Duel for the Dunes: Land Use Conflict on the Shores of Lake Michigan (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983). It should be supplemented with J. Ronald Engel, Sacred Sands: The Struggle for Community in the Indiana Dunes (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1983), a social, cultural, and intellectual history of the region before its authorization as a national lakeshore in 1966. Similarly, Robert W. Righter, Crucible for Conservation: The Creation of Grand Teton National Park (Boulder: Colorado Associated University Press, 1982), reexamines the fifty-year struggle to include Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in either Yellowstone or Grand Teton national park. Once more, the strength of Righter's version of the controversy is his continuing discussion of the implications for resources as opposed to a discussion devoted exclusively to political and bureaucratic intrigue. By way of contrast, the more traditional approach to park history, relying heavily on Indian lore, pioneers' tales, and travelers' accounts, is reflected in Margaret Sanborn, Yosemite: Its Discovery, Its Wonders, and Its People (New York: Random House, 1981).

Policy issues from historical times to the present have been further addressed in three major studies: Joseph L. Sax, Mountains Without Handrails: Reflections on the National Parks (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980); William C. Everhart, The National Park Service, 2d ed. (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1983); and Ronald A. Foresta, America's National Parks and Their Keepers (Washington, D.C.: Resources for the Future, 1984). At the risk of being called an elitist, Sax restates familiar concerns about the need to curb overdevelopment in the national parks. Foresta, meanwhile, takes a more tolerant view of the average park visitor, noting that the parks, after all, were established for human enjoyment as well as resource protection. Similarly, Everhart defends the Park Service by drawing attention to the enormous social and political pressures often imposed on the agency. So, too, Conrad L. Wirth, director of the Park Service between 1951 and 1964, defends Mission 66, road-building, and other internal improvements in Parks, Politics, and the People (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1980). Again, Wirth's justification for development is the obligation imposed by Congress on the Park Service to make the parks both safe and accessible. The issue of access is further treated in Alfred Runte, Trains of Discovery: Western Railroads and the National Parks (Flagstaff, Ariz.: Northland Press, 1984), which, using historical examples of railroad promotion of the national park idea, argues that public transportation is still the only viable solution to the resource damage attributed in large part to the automobile.

Among books dealing with national parks as a component of other themes in environmental history, Wilderness and the American Mind, 3d ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), by Roderick Nash, still stands apart. In this most recent revision, Nash develops the social, cultural, and intellectual trends behind the wilderness movement in Alaska. Another important study is Barbara Novak, Nature and Culture: American Landscape and Painting, 1825-1875 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1980). Novak herself is not concerned with national parks per se but with the intellectual and artistic foundations of nature appreciation. In a similar vein, Stephen J. Pyne uses fire as a departure for environmental analysis in Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). Like Nash and Novak, Pyne does not deal exclusively with national parks; still, because Fire in America also discusses deep-seated emotions toward the natural world in the United States, its importance as a source for national park history has already been firmly established.

Two biographies of John Muir—Stephen Fox, John Muir and His Legacy: The American Conservation Movement (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown, 1981); and Michael P. Cohen, The Pathless Way: John Muir and American Wilderness (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984), are also notable for their wealth of information about the conservation movement as a whole. Fox, for example, devotes but one third of his study to John Muir himself; the remainder of Fox's book is a biographical approach to the history of conservation and its leadership since Muir's death in 1914. Similarly, the memoirs of Horace M. Albright as-told-to Robert Cahn, The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-33 (Salt Lake City: Howe Brothers, 1985), is a richly detailed recollection of the hierarchy of American conservation in the opening decades of the twentieth century.

An important new journal is Environmental Review, published by the American Society for Environmental History. See, for example, Thomas R. Cox, "From Hot Springs to Gateway: The Evolving Concept of Public Parks, 1832-1976," vol. 5, no. 1 (1980): 14-26. Meanwhile, the Journal of Forest History remains an important publication for national park subjects. Examples of recent articles include H. Duane Hampton, "Opposition to National Parks," 25 (January 1981): 36-45; and Rick Hydrick, "The Genesis of National Park Management: John Roberts White and Sequoia National Park, 1920-1947," 28 (April 1984): 68-81. Researchers should also consult the Encyclopedia of American Forest and Conservation History, 2 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1983), edited by Richard C. Davis under the sponsorship of the Forest History Society. Contributors include Alfred Runte, Susan R. Schrepfer, Donald C. Swain, Douglas H. Strong, Richard A. Bartlett, Thomas R. Cox, Stephen J. Pyne, Samuel P. Hays, and numerous other historians noted for their expertise on national park topics. Another major sourcebook is a provocative new report by the Conservation Foundation, National Parks for a New Generation: Visions, Realities, Prospects (Washington, D.C.: Conservation Foundation, 1985), which, among numerous philosophical contributions to the ideals of national park management, cites many recent books and articles pertaining to national park research.

Finally, Arthur D. Martinson, Wilderness Above the Sound: The Story of Mount Rainier National Park (Flagstaff, Ariz.: Northland Press, 1986), offers another innovative approach to national park scholarship, drawing heavily on the latest techniques of public history.


National Parks: The American Experience
©1997, University of Nebraska Press
runte1/sbibliography.htm — 17-Mar-2004