Women of Our National Parks

A drawing of a hand with a pen writing a letter.

Welcome, new neighbor, to the National Park Service way of life! You are married to a very special man, or you would not be reading this letter. The Park Service challenges men who are intelligent, able to communicate and get along with people, and who also have a special love for our USA wonderlands, the National Park areas. As the wife of such a man, you are also challenged! May your years be varied and happy ones as you live a long and fruitful career together.

VIP Ginny got me hooked on a podcast, “National Park After Dark (NPAD). The hosts, Cassie and Danielle, describe the podcast as “A Podcast for the Morbid Outdoor Enthusiast”. You can find it wherever you get your podcasts, if you are interested.

As I work my way through them, a recent episode from March 2021 was titled “Celebrating Women’s History Month: Women of Our National Parks“. The hosts started off this episode by reading excerpts from an Open Letter to NPS Wives and Women Employees, written by wives of NPS employees to other wives. The quote above is from this Open Letter. If you read through this letter, you will be amazed at how perceptions have changed since this letter was written. The NPS was really a man’s occupation in the early days.

Most men choose the Park Service as a career because of a special interest or skill. They quickly become very involved in their work. If you don’t want to be left out, share his interests, read everything you can get your hands on that pertains to his field of work, listen to him.

Can you guess when this letter was written, 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s? Would you believe that this letter was written in 1967? You would have thought it was written several decades earlier.

As a Park Service wife, it is your responsibility to see that his clothes are ready when needed, clean and neatly pressed. He will appreciate this more than you’ll ever know.

It is hard to imagine what the National Park Service would be like without the contributions of these women. Thankfully today, women and men are both employed in the National Park Service. We have both park wives and park husbands (and families). We also have women in leadership roles. Women have and continue to shape the history of the National Park Service, from the extraordinary to the everyday.

You can find more history of the National Park Service on the npshistory website.

4 thoughts on “Women of Our National Parks

  1. I remember reading the full letter in horror when I started with NPS in 2008! My former boss printed it out and put it in our uniform policy book as a joke. I’m glad things have changed for the better (though there is still progress to be made).

  2. As a kid, growing up before WW2, I wanted to be “Forrest ranger” but women weren’t accepted. Now I greatly enjoy volunteering at Cabrillo..

  3. I though you would be writing about Women’s Equality Day, tomorrow August 26. We had such a great event back in 2020.

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