Archives: Yosemite Archives
Published: October 6, 2017 by Katie Kuryla
October is Archives Month, and archival institutions throughout the U.S. are celebrating! This is the perfect chance to take the plunge if you’ve always wanted to go to an archive, but have hesitated to do so. Many institutions plan special events including open houses, exhibits, programs, and a variety of other activities. In this blog, I decided to take a closer look at Yosemite National Park Archives.
In 1890, Yosemite became a national park on October 1st. It was in 1922 that Yosemite naturalist Ansel Hall started soliciting loans and gifts of documents and artifacts for a park museum collection. In 1924, Yosemite completed construction of the first museum that housed a research library for park staff and general public use. In the earlier years, NPS employees collected and maintained manuscripts, photographs, and rare book donations as well as official government records that collected information to “tell the park story” to visitors.
By 1996, the collection grew that the park constructed a new climate-controlled storage space at the NPS Administrative complex in El Portal, California and by 2005, the park hired their first professional archivist. Today the Yosemite Archives contains over three million items, including documents, photographs, motion picture film, maps, plans, and oral history. Some of the more notable holdings include business records of the Yosemite Park and Curry Company, the longest operating NPS grant holder, the Joseph Dixon Collection, an early naturalist who took thousands of photographs documenting natural history in Yosemite and other western parks, and the Yosemite Nature Notes Collection, a long-running publication.
The Yosemite Archives provides critical information to public researchers and park employees for study, education, and the ongoing management of resources. Appointments are required for use of the archival collections and researchers are encouraged to begin by examining the finding aids that are posted on Online Archive of California. While appointments are required, Yosemite Archives have started to digitize their collection. Several collections, including the Joseph Dixon collection, have been partially digitized and can be perused onsite.
The Yosemite Archives has a rich history that they want to share and with this October’s American Archives month, they are reaching out to patrons to let them know how to use them as a resource. Research is by appointment; research hours are Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 4:30 pm.
If you are visiting, check out the museum that has changing exhibits yearly. The NPS manages, preserves, and provides access to our collections for the benefit of the public. Preservation and use for education and enjoyment is central to the idea of a museum, and an NPS museum is no different!