HFC 50th Anniversary

HFC 50th Logo


It has been 50 years since the National Park Service made the profound and visionary decision to place all media-related functions and personnel together under one roof. Since 1970, the Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services (HFC) has helped create a deeper meaning and connection to our nation’s treasured stories and lands. The vision, then and now, is to produce excellence.

Over the past 50 years, the media produced in collaboration with our park colleagues have been recognized by government agencies, nonprofits, professional organizations, the business community, andmost importantthe visiting public. We want to thank all the dedicated professionals at HFC who have made and continue to make this happen. We all feel a great sense of pride and honor to serve national parks.

We also want to thank all the wonderful, amazing park leadership, staff, and partners. Without you, your expertise, and trust, these successes would not be possible.

As we look to the future, our products and services will continue to evolve to meet the changing world around us, but our commitment to excellence will remain.

Thank you for 50 years. We look forward to continuing to serve you again in the future.

Celebrate with us!

Earlier this year, we had hoped to open our doors and welcome everyone for a day of celebration with guest speakers and media demonstrations. However, in light of current health risks, this celebration moved online.

A virtual celebration opened new opportunities and allowed us to invite more to the party. Over the past several months we hosted many virtual events including a summer-long film festival, talks by guest speakers, alumni interviews, and much more.

We filled our social media feeds (
Instagram and Facebook) with the latest dates and times of all the events, but you can watch them all here. Let us hear from you at #HFC50th.

Some Notable Achievements:

  • Created the National Park Service visual identity, initiated by the familiar black-band “unigrid” brochure, custom typeface, and modern arrowhead.

  • Led the public sector in universal design, so that people of varying abilities can experience national parks.

  • Standardized outdoor sign and wayside exhibit construction in ways that many others have emulated.

  • Set industry standards for AV, exhibits, historic furnishings, and the object conservation.

  • Earned hundreds of national and international film awards.

  • Blazed new trails in cartography.

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    HFC - An Idea and a Suggestion Box

    The idea for HFC starts from a 1964 "Here's My Idea" to the Department of the Interior. Vince Gleason, then Chief of Publications, suggested "that the National Park Service locate the creative functions of its Washington Interpretive Staff in a shop, suggested "that the National Park Service locate the creative functions of its Washington Interpretive Staff in a shop, built exclusively for that purpose, at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. An interpretive Shop at Harpers Ferry would achieve two distinct improvements over existing arrangements. One, the Interpretive Staff could meet its assignments far better in a building designed expressly for the purpose. Two, the new location would enable the Interpretive Staff to take a more direct and active part in the Stephen T. Mather and Research Center."

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      Online Events

      ED Z

      An Oral Tradition
      People's stories are among the most valuable resources that the National Park Service preserves and protects for future generations. Listen to some of the stories of Harpers Ferry Center staff.

      FF 50th homepage

      Film Festival
      From mid-June through September 2020, HFC will host a festival of NPS films. Film titles will be posted every two weeks. Panel discussions with Q&A sessions will accompany selected films.

      IDC History homepage

      Birth of the IDC Building
      Architect Ulrich Franzen designed the Interpretive Design Center (IDC) at Harpers Ferry in 1968. Join Elizabeth Milnarik, Historical Architect for the National Capital Area of the NPS, as she discusses the National Park Service's late Mission 66 period, when the aesthetic tide turned from the volumetric lightness of the International Style, toward the robust massiveness of Post Modernist Brutalism. Please note - this event will be live captioned.

      Various birds painted by Charley Harper

      Charley Harper and the National Park Service
      The Center commissioned ten poster illustrations from the beloved American artist Charley Harper (1922–2007). Browse related notes and sketches and observe his working method through selected photos and video clips.

      A brown arrowhead with white letters that read National Park Service

      Creating the National Park Service Visual Identity
      Do you recognize the National Park Service brand? Learn about the origins of our visual identity, see where it may be heading in the future, and find out about your role in this process.

      Unigrid_Brochures

      The Story of Unigrid Brochures: What's in Your Collection?
      The HFC Publications office has been creating, and archiving, NPS Unigrid brochures since the system launched in 1977. Hear about the origins of the Unigrid, see some of the favorites from our collection, and share your favorites with us.

      Last updated: November 19, 2020