National Park Service: The First 75 Years
Biographical Vignettes
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Dr. Harold Bryant

                                          by Harold Danz

Dr. Harold Bryant

Harold C. Bryant was born in Pasadena, California, on January 30, 1886. He received an undergraduate degree (BS) from Pomona College, majoring in zoology/ornithology, and a MS and PhD in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1914 to 1930, he served with the California Fish and Game Commission, was a lecturer and field trip leader for UC Extension, and was a summer season ranger-naturalist at Yosemite National Park.

As a result of an experiment to test the reaction of vacationers to nature talks and trips at Lake Tahoe resorts, NPS Director Mather urged that a similar program be started at Yosemite. Dr. Bryant and Dr. Loye H. Miller, who had participated in the Tahoe experiment, were housed in tents and furnished with only a table in the chief ranger's office. Field trips, evening campfire talks, and established hours for answering questions from park visitors were introduced and enthusiastically accepted. Dr. Bryant served without cost to the federal government until June 1923, when he was appointed as a seasonal park ranger. In 1925 Dr. Bryant was named as the first director of the Yosemite School of Field Natural History to train naturalists. Emphasis was placed on experience in the field, with lectures and books taking second place.

In 1930, to permit the NPS to implement a stronger interpretive and educational approach to park management, Dr. Harold C. Bryant was given his first permanent position with the National Park Service, assistant director of the Branch of Research and Education, serving under both Albright and Cammerer until 1938.

As consultant to the director, Dr. Bryant assisted in the establishment of Olympic National Park during 1938 and was appointed as acting superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park in 1939. In early 1940, Kings Canyon National Park was established, and Dr. Bryant assisted in the organization of that area. He was appointed as superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park on August 1, 1941, where he served until his retirement on March 31, 1954.

He was a recipient of the Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award (1954) and received many other honorary awards and recognitions during his career. He passed away in Berkeley, California, on July 14, 1968, at the age of 82. Although Dr. Bryant was assuredly responsible for any number of significant accomplishments with the National Park Service, he was most proud of his role in establishing the interpretive program in the National Park Service.

From National Park Service: The First 75 Years


Last Modified: March 27 2017 01:00:00 pm EDT

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