NPS History Collection

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Two people sitting on a hill

The NPS History Collection preserves and shares the stories of the history, culture, management, resources, challenges, and successes of the National Park Service. The artifacts and records encompass the breadth and depth of the agency’s history.

NPS Director George B. Hartzog established the NPS History Collection at Harpers Ferry Center in November 1972. Today the collection comprises over 4 million objects and documents. Use our online resources to explore the many aspects of the National Park Service, get to know the men and women that manage and protect the National Park System, and celebrate more than 100 years of National Park Service history.

Man looking out at the Colorado River and Grand Canyon National Park, 1890s. Colored lantern slide.

NPS Archives

Records detailing the ongoing challenges of the NPS mission to preserve park resources unimpaired for future generations while making them accessible for today's visitors. See how the collection can help you learn more about our management history and issues.

Cleopatra Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs at Yellowstone National Park, 1890s. Colored lantern slide by Henry G. Peabody.

NPS Historic Photograph Collection

Images of America’s special places, the people that care for them, and the visitors that love them. Search our online selection from the 400,000 images in the collection to see if there is anyone you know or anywhere you have been.

Auto tour passing Sylvan Lake in Yellowstone National Park, 1916. Colored lantern slide by Haynes.

NPS Oral History Collection

Stories of NPS history, adventure, humor, tragedy, camaraderie, and family told by the men and women of the the NPS in their own words.

Ranger with binoculars looking out from the fire lookout at Twin Sisters Peaks in Rocky Mountain National Park, 1916. Colored lantern slide.

NPS Uniform Collection

The NPS uniform is an iconic symbol of our staff and mission recognized around the world and one we wear with pride. See how the uniform has changed over time.

Overlooking nature’s grandest scenery with Half Dome from Glacier Point, Yellowstone National Park, 1915. Colored lantern slide.

NPS History Collection

Objects that connect people to our history from before the founding of the NPS to today. Search the NPS Web Catalog to see a selection of objects.

Learn More about National Park Service History

The following resources can help you learn more about our history:

Frequently Asked Questions

Museum collection storage areas are not open to the public. The NPS History Collection is available for research by appointment only.
The NPS History Collection is generally available for research by appointment weekdays only from 9:30am-4:30pm. Staff tries to accommodate requested appointment days and time, but alternative days or times may be necessary as staff and space are limited.
Contact the archivist for more information. Before scheduling a reseach appointment, the archivist will discuss your research topic with you to get a better sense of how the collection may meet your needs and to coordinate the visit.
All requests for copies of materials from the NPS History Collection must be submitted on the user agreement form, available here. Federal employees seeking copies for official business should use the federal user agreement form. Once completed please email them to the archivist.
Currently there is no cost for scans of photographs or documents in the NPS History Collection. A cost recovery progran is currently under development. This information will be updated as that program is implemented.

Last updated: October 6, 2020