online book
cover to Family Tree of the National Park System
NPS Family Tree





Part I

Part II

current topic Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Family Tree of the National Park System
Part III
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part III


We come now to an event of profound significance for the future of the National Park System — the Reorganization of 1933. On June 10, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6166 which, in effect, consolidated all Federally owned National Parks and National Monuments, all National Military Parks, eleven National Cemeteries, all National Memorials, and National Capital Parks into one National Park System administered by the National Park Service. The story of how the great Reorganization of 1933 was finally brought about after 17 years of effort has been told in fascinating detail by Horace M. Albright in Origins of National Park Service Administration of Historic Sites, published by the Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1971.

The reorganization had three highly significant consequences: (1) it made the National Park Service the sole Federal agency responsible for all Federally owned public parks, monuments, and memorials; (2) it enlarged the National Park System idea to include at least four types of areas not clearly included in the System concept before 1933 — National Memorials, like the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty; National Military Parks, like Gettysburg and Antietam with their adjoining National Cemeteries; National Capital Parks, a great urban park system as old as the nation itself; and the first recreational area — George Washington Memorial Parkway; (3) the reorganization substantially increased and diversified the holdings in the System by adding 12 natural areas located in 9 western states and Alaska and 57 historical areas located in 17 predominantly eastern states and the District of Columbia. The number of historical areas in the System was thus quadrupled. The System became far more truly national than ever before.

Each of the six groups of areas added to the System in the Reorganization of 1933 is represented by a separate line of the Family Tree. Each group added its own unique history and character to Service background and traditions. It is vital to understand these factors to comprehend the true nature of the National Park System. On the pages that follow these six lines are treated in this sequence:

    National Capital Parks Line, 1790-1933
    National Memorials Line, 1776-1933
    National Military Parks Line, 1781-1933
    National Cemetery Line, 1867-1933
    National Monument Line II, War Department, 1910-1933
    National Monument Line III, Department of Agriculture, 1907-1933

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