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



By Carl P. Russell

The following is a brief of Mr. Russell’s paper:

The development of museums in the national parks during the past several years was traced in detail. Mr. Russell then suggested that park superintendents detail their park naturalists during a portion of the winter season to work with some especially well qualified museum preparator. He also pointed out that a park naturalist should be able to make herbarium specimens and study-skins of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, etc. He also suggested that one person on the headquarters staff of the Educational Division should be available to specialize in the field of preparation and, if possible, to devote at least half his time to research and field investigations along this line. To summarize: “Each park naturalist should be qualified to conduct museum preparation work to a greater or less degree and each park naturalist should be responsible for museum collections and study collections.”


In the discussion which followed the presentation of the above subject, Chief Naturalist Hall suggested that park museums be designated “museums” even though it may often be necessary during the preliminary stages to house temporary installations in buildings which may serve as museums for the time being.

The park naturalists thoroughly discussed the matter of securing training during the winter months, and the consensus of opinion was that it is highly important that park naturalists be detailed during a part of the winter season to work under an expert preparator either at Educational Headquarters or at museums or institutions at other places throughout the country. Also the park naturalists are agreed that it is highly important that technical assistance be provided in their own parks in order to assist them in learning the best technique in collecting and field preparation.

Mr. Frank Tose, Chief Preparator for the California Academy of Sciences, briefly reviewed the various methods of museum preparation and discussed the subject of materials in a broad way. He suggested that each park naturalist specialize in some particular process or field of preparation and that a cooperative arrangement be concluded whereby they might prepare exhibits from a number of parks, providing these exhibits fell within their own chosen specialized field. Mr. Hall stated that under the present circumstances the latter arrangement, although possibly desirable, might not be practicable inasmuch as the individual park naturalists have insufficient time at their disposal to specialize on certain fields of museum preparation. The alternative was suggested of having on the headquarters staff of the Educational Division one well qualified preparator whose duty it would be to assist park naturalists in the field in collecting and field preparation and to work at Educational Headquarters during the remainder of the year where he could train park naturalists in the technical phases of museum preparation.

There followed a long discussion of the value of study collections and their place in park museums. It was concluded that the value of study collections in national parks is three fold: (1) For reference of the park scientific staff; (2) for the use of visiting scientists; and (3) for examination by especially interested laymen.

The following conclusion was unanimously agreed upon: “We are of the opinion that the park naturalist or his staff should assemble study collections of flora, fauna, and geology of his particular park region and that he should so arrange his program that time will be allotted for this project in coordination with other activities.”


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