Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Tourism and Conservation in the National Parks

This digital teaching collection investigates the topics of tourism and conservation in U.S. National Parks between 1897-1932.

Tourism and Conservation in the National Parks

Photo of a train with Mt. Rainier in background.

In 1872, the United States Congress established Yellowstone National Park as a “public park...for the benefit and enjoyment of the people” and placed it under the purview of the Secretary of the Interior. Yellowstone was the first of many national parks, historic sites, and monuments to be set aside for public use by the United States government. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson created the National Park Service to manage these federal lands. The enabling legislation of the National Park Service (H. R. 15522, often referred to as the Organic Act) defines its primary functions to “promote and regulate the use of Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations … [and] conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

To read the complete essay, visit the Overview Essay tab of this guide.

How to Use this Digital Teaching Collection

There are many components of this Digital Teaching Collection for you to explore!

  1. The Gallery: Browse the gallery of images below to get a glimpse of our digital source set. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research.
  2. Overview Essay: Want to understand how these archival items work together? Read our overview essay to better understand the greater context of the objects and the histories that surround them. 
  3. List of Sources: Visit the list of primary sources to read descriptive text that our librarians have written. These descriptions will help you better understand the object and will jumpstart your research. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research.
  4. Teaching Guide: These collections have been designed with students and educators in mind. Visit our Teaching Guide to find discussion questions, activity ideas, and complete lesson plans for K-12 and undergraduate audiences. 
  5. Additional Resources: The search for primary sources does not stop with one institution! We've listed other digital collections and repositories that have archival sources relevant to this topic as well as tips for continuing your research.

The Gallery

In this rotating gallery, you'll get a glimpse of some the items from this digital teaching collection. Click on the image to be taken to a digital database where you'll find a larger version of the object, more details about it, and be able to download a copy to use for research. To see the entire set of sources, visit the List of Sources

The Gallery

Handwritten letter from Abby Williams Hill

Letter, Abby Williams Hill to Frank Hill, October 30, 1921

This letter was written by Abby Williams Hill to her husband, Frank Hill, on October 30, 1921. Hill, a landscape artist, was writing from Yosemite National Park.

Image of a Crater Lake guidebook for motorists

Crater Lake Motorist’s Guide, 1924

This Motorist's Guide to Crater Lake National Park was published in 1924 by the Department of the Interior. It outlines "useful hints" for motorists traveling within the park. 

Yellowstone National Park guidebook cover

Yellowstone National Park guidebook, 1925

This guidebook to Yellowstone National Park was published in 1925 by the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad was one way that tourists could access the park.

Yosemite National Park guidebook cover

Yosemite National Park guidebook, c. 1921

This guidebook to Yosemite National Park was published in the early 1920s by the Yosemite National Park Company. The company was responsible for building and providing services within the park including lodging, dining, stores, and other conveniences.

Seal of National Endowment for the HumanitiersThis digital teaching collection has been made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Democracy demands wisdom.  Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this digital collection do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.