Robert Sterling Yard was born in 1861 in Haverstraw, New York. An
1883 Princeton graduate, he worked as a reporter for the New York
Sun and later as editor at the New York Herald. From 1900 to
1915, he served in the publishing business, variously as editor-in-chief
of The Century Magazine and Sunday editor of the New York
Herald. From 1915 to 1919, Yard served in the Department of the
Interior as national parks publicity chief and later as chief,
Educational Division, of the new National Park Service. Elected
executive secretary, National Parks Association (now NPCA) at the
organizational meeting in 1919, he also served as editor, National
Parks Bulletin, from 1919 to 1936, and at age 76 became a founding
member and president of the Wilderness Society, directing that group's
activities until his last illness. He died in 1945.
To the great and lasting benefit of the national parks and their
owners, the American people, 47-year-old Robert Sterling Yard.
newspaperman and publisher, was ready when the call came to publicize
those national parks. A friend of Stephen Mather since the 1890s and
Mather's best man at his wedding, he, like Mather, had long enjoyed the
outdoors prior to the start of his public service career. Upon arriving
in Washington in early 1915. Bob Yard quickly absorbed the intense
dedication which was creating a bureau to protect America's national
parks. At the National Park Conference in March of 1915, Yard affirmed
his bond to the cause of the parks, saying, "I, the treader of dusty
city streets, boldly claim common kinship with you of the plains, the
mountains, and the glaciers."
His work proved the depth of his conviction. In 1915 he assembled
The National Parks Portfolio for distribution to 270,000
opinionmakers throughout the country, helped generate numerous articles
on national parks in publications around the nation, and wrote pamphlets
and articles to focus public attention on the parks. His intense efforts
with the publishing world he knew so well resulted in more than one
thousand articles on national park subjects between 1917 and 1919.
Forced to leave the government in 1919, owing to a law prohibiting
supplementing pay of federal employees, Yard, whose meager salary had
been augmented by Stephen Mather since 1915, received Director Mather's
final financial support in creating the National Parks Association.
On a cold January day in 1930, Robert Sterling Yard had stood with
National Park Service Director Horace Albright at the grave of the
recently deceased Stephen Mather. Albright remembered: "We
rededicated ourselves to the ideals of our friend as long as we might be
Bob Yard applied that dedication to the end of his highly productive