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Zoom In on The National Parks

America’s National Parks are a national treasure, visited by millions of people annually. The first national park was established in 1872, when territories in Montana and Wyoming became Yellowstone National Park. Since then, the national park system has grown to 384 areas covering more than 83 million acres.

Tertiary History of the Grand Ca隳n District, with Atlas,...,” 1882 “The National Parks Preserve Wild Life,” between 1936 and 1939

When people think of the locations of the national parks, they often think of places like Wyoming or northern California or Maine. But these parks are found in 49 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories, in areas that are as wide open as the American West or as densely populated as Washington, D.C. The largest one is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska. At 13.2 million acres it comprises 16.3 percent of the entire system. The smallest area in the system is Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania, at 0.02 acre.

Four of the most popular areas are featured in “Mapping the National Parks

This presentation documents the history, culture and geological formations of areas that eventually became national parks. The collection consists of approximately 200 maps dating from the 17th century to the present and features Acadia, Grand Canyon, Great Smoky Mountains and Yellowstone national parks.

Go to this American Memory collection and you will be able to see maps of places you may have traveled to or would like to see. Using the special MrSid software, you will be able to “zoom in” on these maps and see details with greater clarity than with the naked eye.

Want more great images related to the national parks? Go to the American Memory Collection Finder search page and type “national parks.” Among the hundreds of “hits” you will get is one for the colorful poster shown here, called “The National Parks Preserve Wild Life.” The poster is from the “By the People, For the People: Posters from the WPA, 1936-1943” collection. The collection gives access to 908 boldly colored and graphically diverse original posters produced from 1936 to 1943 as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal. Of the 2,000 WPA posters known to exist, the Library of Congress's collection of more than 900 is the largest.

These striking silkscreen, lithograph and woodcut posters were designed to publicize health and safety programs; cultural programs, including art exhibitions, and theatrical and musical performances; travel and tourism; educational programs; and community activities in 17 states and the District of Columbia. The posters were made possible by one of the first U.S. government programs to support the arts and were added to the Library's holdings in the 1940s.

Many of these posters are for sale at very inexpensive prices from the Library of Congress Sales Shop. Click on “Posters” or anything else that interests you from the selection of links on the left side of this page.

A. Clarence Edward Dutton, “Tertiary History of the Grand Ca隳n District, with Atlas,...,” 1882. Geography and Map Division. Reproduction information: Call No.: QE75 .M7 vol. 2; Control No.: gs 05000790]

B. Work Projects Administration Federal Art Project, “The National Parks Preserve Wild Life,” between 1936 and 1939. Prints and Photographs Division. Reproduction information: Reproduction No.: LC-USZC2-5639 DLC (color film copy slide); Call No.: POS - WPA - NY .H58, no. 1]

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