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



current topic Foreword


Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Part V

Part VI

Part VII



Family Tree of the National Park System
National Park Service Arrowhead


In observing the centennial of the world's first national park, it is fitting that we examine the evolution of our National Park System. The creation of Yellowstone National Park in 1872 set a momentous precedent. From it sprang the trunk of our "family tree." But this trunk, so prominent in the eyes of the world, often obscures roots of considerable proportion and sometimes greater antiquity. Memorials, monuments, historic sites, cemeteries, battlefields, recreational areas, the parks of the national capital — all had separate and distinctive origins and all finally joined the trunk to form the richly diverse unity that we now call the National Park System. Knowledge of how they grew together in a unified system is vital to understanding the value and meaning of one of America's proudest possessions—its National Park System.

In this booklet Ronald F. Lee shows the origins and development of the "family tree." Mr. Lee is a National Park Service veteran of high distinction. He entered the Service in 1933 as historian at Shiloh National Military Park, Tennessee, and rose rapidly to Chief Historian and Assistant Director of the Service, and finally Director of the Northeast Region, the post from which he retired in 1966. He has observed first-hand the growth of the many facets of the family tree, and he has delved into the records to verify his observations.

We of the National Park Service are grateful to Mr. Lee for this lucid and imaginative study of the process by which the National Park System attained its present content and dimensions and to the Eastern National Park and Monument Association for its generosity in publishing this booklet.

George B. Hartzog, Jr.
Director, National Park Service

March 1, 1972


Last Modified: Sat, May 12 2001 10:08 am PDT

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