National Park Service: The First 75 Years
Biographical Vignettes
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Ansel F, Hall

                                          by William C. and Merrie H. Winkler

Ansel F Hall
(Courtesy of Merrie Winkler Collection)

The first chief naturalist and chief forester of the National Park Service, Ansel Hall was born May 6, 1894, in Oakland, California. He graduated in 1917 from the University of California with a degree in forestry. He began his career at Sequoia National Park as a ranger, and after service in France during World War I, he was park naturalist at Yosemite National Park from 1920 to 1923. He rose rapidly and was chief naturalist of the National Park Service from 1923 to 1930, senior naturalist and chief forester from 1930 to 1933, and chief of the Field Division from 1933 to 1937. He married June Alexander on January 24, 1924, and they were blessed with six children, three of whom were triplets. He left the Park Service in 1938 to operate the concessions in Mesa Verde National Park and to develop private interpretive programs. He died suddenly on March 28, 1962.

Ansel Hall was a rare combination of romantic idealist and practical businessman. He was an instinctive teacher and had a deep feeling for youth as well as nature. He personally raised funds from private sources and built the museum in Yosemite National Park. His vision had plans ready for implementation when the "Alphabet Agencies" were formed during the Great Depression and park museums flourished. He developed the first museum association in Yosemite, the first of present day cooperating associations. His charm and persuasive skills brought private funds and public involvement to the parks and the San Francisco Bay Area regional parks. Ansel was a mentor to Ansel Adams and other artists in the parks. He organized Eagle Scout trips to Costa Rica, planned and directed the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, and assisted competent archaeologists to work in Palestine. He was an enormously creative person. He had the faculty of getting things done by selecting people, persuading them, putting them to work, providing them with the facilities, and leaving them alone!

From National Park Service: The First 75 Years


Last Modified: March 27 2017 02:00:00 pm EDT

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