The first chief naturalist and chief forester of the National Park
Service, Ansel Hall was born May 6, 1894, in Oakland, California. He
graduated in 1917 from the University of California with a degree in
forestry. He began his career at Sequoia National Park as a ranger, and
after service in France during World War I, he was park naturalist at
Yosemite National Park from 1920 to 1923. He rose rapidly and was chief
naturalist of the National Park Service from 1923 to 1930, senior
naturalist and chief forester from 1930 to 1933, and chief of the Field
Division from 1933 to 1937. He married June Alexander on January 24,
1924, and they were blessed with six children, three of whom were
triplets. He left the Park Service in 1938 to operate the concessions in
Mesa Verde National Park and to develop private interpretive programs.
He died suddenly on March 28, 1962.
Ansel Hall was a rare combination of romantic idealist and practical
businessman. He was an instinctive teacher and had a deep feeling for
youth as well as nature. He personally raised funds from private sources
and built the museum in Yosemite National Park. His vision had plans
ready for implementation when the "Alphabet Agencies" were formed during
the Great Depression and park museums flourished. He developed the first
museum association in Yosemite, the first of present day cooperating
associations. His charm and persuasive skills brought private funds and
public involvement to the parks and the San Francisco Bay Area regional
parks. Ansel was a mentor to Ansel Adams and other artists in the parks.
He organized Eagle Scout trips to Costa Rica, planned and directed the
Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, and assisted competent
archaeologists to work in Palestine. He was an enormously creative
person. He had the faculty of getting things done by selecting people,
persuading them, putting them to work, providing them with the
facilities, and leaving them alone!