NPS History Collection Finding Aids

The National Park Service (NPS) History Collection includes over three million documents, photographs, video and sound recordings, scrapbooks and photo albums, and other materials. Available finding aids are below. Email the archivist for more information about these or other collections.

gray labeled boxes on shelving units
Archives storage (NPS History Collection photo)

Collection Guides

Thomas J. Allen Photograph Collection: Allen's photographs documenting his career in the NPS from 1920-1965.

Assembled Historic Records of the NPS (9159 KB, PDF).

Robert Cahn Papers: Correspondence, research notes, recordings, and transcripts related to development of the 1985 book "The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-1933" by Horace M. Albright as told to Robert Cahn.

Howard H. Chapman Slide Collection: Chapman's color transparencies (slides) documenting his career and travels to national parks and monuments. Chapman's personal diaries, which document significant events and conversations from 1971-1986, are included.

General Milton F. Davis Papers: Maps of Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequioia national parks created by Davis in the 1890s during his tenure with the 4th U.S. Calvary. Correspondence with Yosemite National Park Superintendent Lawrence C. Merriam and members of a July 1919 auto tour are included.

Dorothy Boyle Huyck Papers: Records created by or assembled by Huyck for freelance articles and other products related to the NPS, particularly camping and conservation issues. Includes correspondence, research notebooks, brochures and pamphlets regarding NPS sites, NPS management plans, and news clippings.

Polly Welts Kaufman Papers: Research (including oral history interviews) compiled by Kaufman for her book National Parks and the Woman's Voice: A History. Also includes additional research about "early savers" (Kaufman's term for women who were involved in getting national parks and monuments established) for a planned book that was never written. [Note: parts of this collection have not yet been processed and described.]

List of NPS Employee Papers and Working Files (135.27 KB, PDF).

Stephen Tyng Mather Film Collection: 16mm films taken by NPS Director Stephen T. Mather with his personal movie camera as he traveled throughout national parks, ca. 1924-1929. Also includes a small number of commercial productions related to national parks.

National Park Service Oral History Collection 1937-2017 (795 KB, PDF).

Henry G. Peabody Photograph Collection: Peabody's lantern slides and guides published as illustrated lectures for national parks.

E.B. Thompson Negative Collection: Ezra B. Thompson's images of national parks and other locations or subjects. NPS sites include C&O Canal, Harpers Ferry, Great Falls, Arlington House: the Robert E. Lee Memorial, Glen Echo, Mount Rainier, National Mall (particularly the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial), Rock Creek Park, Shenandoah, Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone, and the White House.

Copyright & Restrictions

The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted materials. The various state privacy acts govern the use of materials that document private individuals, groups, and corporations. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a reproduction if the document does not infringe the privacy rights of an individual, group, or corporation. These specified conditions of authorized use include:

  • non-commercial and non-profit study, scholarship, or research, or teaching
  • criticism, commentary, or news reporting
  • as a NPS preservation or security copy
  • as a research copy for deposit in another institution

If a user later uses a copy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," the user may be personally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement. This institution's permission to obtain a photographic, xerographic, digital, or other copy of a document doesn't indicate permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, sell, distribute, or prepare derivative works from this document without first obtaining permission from the copyright holder and from any private individual, group, or corporation shown or otherwise recorded.

Permission to publish, exhibit, perform, reproduce, prepare derivative works from, sell, or otherwise distribute the item must be obtained by the user separately in writing from the holder of the original copyright (or if the creator is dead from his/her heirs) as well as from any individual(s), groups, or corporations whose name, image, recorded words, or private information (e.g., employment information) may be reproduced in the source material. The holder of the original copyright isn't necessarily the National Park Service. The National Park Service is not legally liable for copyright, privacy, or publicity infringement when materials are wrongfully used after being provided to researchers for "fair use."

This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if fulfillment of the order is judged in violation of copyright or federal or state privacy or publicity law.

Last updated: August 17, 2023