A Visual History of Early National Park Service Posters

During the ’30s and ’40s, the National Park Service commissioned incredible posters to encourage tourism to the National Parks.

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As part of FDR’s Works Progress Administration and the Federal Art Project, the National Park Service commissioned a series of posters to encourage tourism to the National Parks. Posters were made for 14 parks including Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Yellowstone and Great Smokey Mountains. In addition to the park-specific posters, the NPS also commissioned posters aimed at saving and preserving wildlife. Many of the posters were lost and disregarded until they were rediscovered recently, and they’re now preserved in the archives at the Library of Congress. They represent a unique time in the history of the National Parks, and they’re worth another look on the centennial of the NPS.

Grand Canyon National Park Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [ca. 1938]

Rainier National Park Northern Pacific North Coast Limited Krollmann, Gustav Wilhelm, 1888-1962

Zion National Park Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [ca. 1938]

Lassen Volcanic National Park Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [ca. 1938]

Yellowstone National Park Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [ca. 1938]

Fort Marion National Monument Department of the Interior, National Park Service, [ca. 1938]

Wild Life: The national parks preserve all life. NYC Art Project, Works Progress Administration, [between 1936 and 1940]

The national parks preserve wild life. Works Progress Administration Federal Art Project, between 1936 and 1939]

Don’t kill our wild life. Works Progress Administration, Federal Art Project, [between 1936 and 1940]

See America. Visit the national parks. NYC Art Project, Work Projects Administration, between 1936 and 1940]

If you like the look of these posters, Doug Leen — or “Ranger Doug,” as he’s known — creates serigraph prints of the original 14 posters, as well as a number of other National Parks in the same style. Posters start at around $40. Learn More: Here

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