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New Exhibit Celebrates the National Park Service Centennial and the Organic Act

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Today’s post is from Jacqueline Nolan, a Cartographer in the Geography and Map Division.

Today officially marks 100 years of the National Park Service!

National parks are a cherished resource of the American public, and serve as inspiration to many countries and communities worldwide. A new exhibit open today in the Geography and Map Division celebrates the centennial of the National Park Service by highlighting the impetus for the Organic Act that established it as a national bureau. The Organic Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916, encapsulated the growing national sentiment to preserve pristine landscapes and conserve the national heritage for public enjoyment and use by future generations. The exhibit features an array of maps, from the engineering renditions of early federal mapping campaigns to a sample of maps capturing the evolution of the National Park Service system as it has expanded through federal legislative actions including the General Antiquities Act and the 1978 Redwoods Act.

Before the creation of the National Park Service, early maps of the beautiful natural landscapes that would become national parks helped garner greater interest in properly preserving and managing these lands on a national scale. Among these early maps is an 1860 geological cross-section of part of Shenandoah County, Virginia, in the current site of Shenandoah National Park.

Shenandoah Geology
“Geological section from S. Fork of Shenandoah R. to Lost R. (across Shenandoah Co.)” by Joseph Lesley, 1860. Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Accompanying photographs from the Prints and Photographs collections capture the serene beauty of these majestic landscapes and heritage sites. For more information about the exhibit, contact Jacqueline Nolan at [email protected].

Alpine Ridge
“Alpine Ridge, Denali National Park, Alaska” by Carol M. Highsmith, 2008. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

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