Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929



By Dr. Gee. C. Ruhle

Behind the current methods of office practice in a museum, prompt ness and efficiency are as vital, as important as in other business.

Correspondence: All official letters issuing from a park naturalist’s office should be typewritten and carbon copies made and filed in alphabetical order of the addressee’s name. With these duplicates should be filed letters received. It may be found convenient to keep index cards of organizations listing names of individuals therein with whom correspondence is held. Some follow-up system should be adopted to insure proper disposal of all letters received. This can be greatly facilitated by use of rubber stamps, so that the letter may be routed around the office before it is filed. I personally make marginal checks on all letters to insure answering all items or otherwise designate that the portion checked is important or should be followed up. If on a certain date, a reply to a letter should be on hand, or a letter should receive other attention, the date is jotted in a square in the upper right hand corner. Letters so stamped are recorded on a sheet or pad to receive proper attention.

Memoranda: It is suggested to keep notes on cards or scratch stationery of two sizes, one of letter size for extensive memoranda; one on 3×5 slips for short notes, which can be slipped into file cases if desired.

Devices: Addressograph and mimeograph are all-important for facilitating mailing of Nature Notes, etc. In all office methods, the importance of written standard practice asserts itself here, as on other parts of a park naturalist’s program.


Coleman, Manual for Small Museums, p. 109.


Following Dr. Ruhle’s paper, Chief Naturalist Hall pointed out the necessity of carefully planned management, even where educational activities are just being started. Systematic records are vitally necessary. They not only give permanent records of the current program but are also necessary so that the educational work may be carried on from one year to another and will not suffer because of changes in personnel. Permanent records make it possible for a new man to plan and carry on his work where his predecessor left off without building up a new system of his own which might or might not be correlated to the work as previously carried on.

relThe point was made that a program of work is vital and that even a daily program of work is important so that each man will know what problems he is personally facing and what problems are being worked upon by each member of the organization as a whole. It was agreed by all members present that it is advisable to supplement the current “Plan of Administration for the Educational Activities” of each individual park with definite written plans for the ultimate educational development. It was agreed that in so far as possible these development plans would be tentatively drawn up by park naturalists in cooperation with Superintendents and that they would be studied by the headquarters staff of the Educational Division and, when approved, incorporated with general plans of park development.

In another statement regarding museum office methods, Mr. Hall accentuated the fact that the administration of a park museum and of the educational work of a park is essentially a part of the administration of that park as a whole and that, therefore, the park naturalist should make every effort to work out his plans in collaboration with the Superintendent and to keep him informed in matters of current administration. It is also advisable that the park naturalist inform himself about the activities of all branches of park administration, as there are many opportunities for coordinating the educational work with these other activities. /P>

It was pointed out that the park naturalist should be careful to administer the office work of his museum, and of his department as a whole, in line with the policies approved by the park service and the park superintendent. All correspondence, for example, should be routed through the superintendent’s office and all matters involving policy should be approved by him before being sent out, unless this regular procedure be modified by his order. In other words, the park naturalist should endeavor to make his particular department a vital factor in the general administration of the park under the superintendent rather than to regard his department as separate from the remainder of the organization.

The point was also stressed that the park naturalist should endeavor in so far as possible to avoid unimportant correspondence. While the stenographic situation at the present time in many parks is extremely unsatisfactory, there is every probability that this situation will be relieved with the development of the educational activities. Even where adequate stenographic assistance is available, however, every effort should be made to limit correspondence to a minimum as each letter written is produced at a definite cost to the government and must be justified by the results obtained.



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