Archives

Tall cabinets filled with neat rows of yellow and gray boxes
The archives are an affiliate of the National Archives and include records from the US Army's administration of the park.

NPS

 

The Yellowstone National Park archives house records that document natural and cultural resources of the park as well as how the national park idea developed after Yellowstone’s establishment, how policies for managing the world’s first national park were developed, and how they continue to develop today. The Yellowstone Archives is an affiliate of the US National Archives and Records Administration and houses a unique record of physical and administrative development beginning with early civilian superintendents and pioneer entrepreneurs, through the turn-of-the-century military era, to the founding and development of the National Park Service.

The collections include documents from the military administration of the park (1886–1918), administrative records from the establishment of the National Park Service (1916) to the present, resource management records that document how the natural and cultural resources are protected, records of major projects that have occurred in the park, the records of park concessioners such as the Yellowstone Park Company, and donated manuscripts. The collection also contains historic maps, photographs, films, oral histories, administrative records, and scientific data.

The park is allowed to permanently hold federal records created by the park’s administration instead of transferring them to the National Archives because of its affiliation with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). While legal custody of these records belongs to NARA, physical custody is kept by Yellowstone National Park to allow researchers to have the best access to both current and historical resources in one location.

 

Hours

The archives is open by prior appointment appointment. Appointments are generally available Monday-Friday, 9am-4pm, with at least 48 hours notice. Email us for more information.

Closed federal holidays and the following dates:
January 17
February 21
May 30
July 4
September 5
October 10
November 11, 24-25
December 26-January 2

Collections

Catalogs: Search by subject at: http://wyld.sdp.sirsi.net/client/en_US/yrl/. Click on the link in the record to access the detailed finding aids.

Search a specific collection or browse all of our finding aids:

  • Yellowstone's Records: The official records of the administration and operation of the Park. Organized by function. Subjects include policy, resource management, fire, and development.
  • Manuscript Collections: Documents, photos, and ephemera donated by visitors, researchers, and others. Particularly strong in topics such as tourism, concessioners, and photographs.

Tours: Free public behind-the-scenes tours are offered Wednesays from 4:00-5:00 PM between Memorial Day (May 30) and Labor Day (Sept. 5). Space is limited, please call 307-344-2264 to register.

Temporary and Traveling Exhibits: The main and upper floor lobbies of the building include small changing exhibits for public viewing. Topics vary from history, culture, art, and natural history. Current exhibits include:

  • A Window into Yellowstone’s Wonders: 150 Years of Collecting in the First National Park: This exhibit offers highlights from the museum, archives, and library collections documenting 150 years of Yellowstone and 150 years of documenting and preserving the story of Yellowstone through heritage collections.
  • Through the Eyes of a Master: Thomas Moran's 1871 Field Sketches. A small selection of watercolor sketches (high quality reproductions) done by artist Thomas Moran during the 1871 Hayden Expedition through what would become Yellowstone National Park. Previously displayed in the Albright Visitor Center. NOTE: Most of the Moran sketches are currently on loan to the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, Wyoming, for the exhibit Scenes of Transcendent Beauty: Thomas Moran's Yellowstone, on display through August 23, 2022. More information here.
  • Thomas Moran's oil paintings, "The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone" and "The Chasm of the Colorado" anchor the exhibit Thomas Moran and the 'Big Picture' at the Department of the Interior Museum in Washington, D.C. Learn more here.

Online Collections

Selected portions of our records have been digitized and placed online. This is an ongoing project.

  • Montana Memory Project: Collections include Superintendent's Annual and Monthly reports, maps and drawings, oral histories, and photographs.
  • Open Parks Network: Historic photographs taken by the Park's official photographers and gathered together into thematic albums in the mid-20th century.
  • Historic Slide File: Historic photographs from the museum collection organized by era and then by topic.
  • NPS Technical Information Center: Historic maps and architectural drawings, and related construction reports for all parks in the National Park Service. Use the Search Filters button to select Yellowstone

Access Policies

Researchers must complete and sign the following forms prior to accessing the records: Access Policy (107 kb PDF), Researcher Registration form (15 kb PDF), and the Copyright & Privacy Waiver (19 kb PDF). Return the forms electronically or by mail to the contact listed below.

Contact Information

Anne Foster, Archivist, email us
(307) 344-2563 or (307) 344-2264
Fax: (406) 848-9958
Mailing Address:
Yellowstone National Park Archives
PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190

Last updated: June 2, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

PO Box 168
Yellowstone National Park , WY 82190-0168

Phone:

307-344-7381

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