Exploring Online: National Parks

exploringonlineOne of the goals of this blog is to draw attention to online primary sources that professors/lecturers/instructors can use in the classroom or accompanying assignments. While some of these posts will point to more well-known places from which to draw these sources, some – like this one – will focus on sites on the internet that scholars may not have considered as being useful in their teaching.


The United States National Park Service oversees the care of more than 400 parks across the country, each with their own website.

On the NPS’s main site, they have a page dedicated to exploring history related to their parks.

For example, the NPS, as part of the Heritage Documentation Papers, has the “HABS/HAER/HALS Collections“:

The permanent collection of architectural, engineering and landscape documentation at the Library of Congress consists of measured and interpretive drawings, large-format black and white and color photographs, written historical and descriptive data, and original field notes. The collection captures the American experience through approximately 40,000 recorded historic structures and sites, from American Indian cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde to space-age technology at Cape Canaveral.

If you look up “austin, tx 1890,” the first entry returned is:

Charles B. Wheelock, Photographer ca. 1890 'VIEW OF WEST AUSTIN TAKEN FROM CAPITOL DOME' SHOWING J.H. HOUGHTON HOUSE WITH TAYLOR-HUNNICUTT HOUSE JUST BEHIND

Charles B. Wheelock, Photographer ca. 1890 ‘VIEW OF WEST AUSTIN TAKEN FROM CAPITOL DOME’ SHOWING J.H. HOUGHTON HOUSE WITH TAYLOR-HUNNICUTT HOUSE JUST BEHIND


NPS also has a series of articles in their “Distance Learning” section that may be useful to educators. When you click on one, you are taken to information about what a field trip to that site would teach students of history. The one titled “A School Day in 1872” is about the Homestead National Monument in America. While the page may not be useful, you can click on a link to that particular site just above the photograph on the upper left side of the page.

At the website for the Homestead National Monument in America, you can then explore online resources for that site. On the left-hand navigation menu, select “History and Culture.” That takes you to a page that gives information on the Homestead Act of 1862, including a link that leads to another page which gives historical background to the act and a link to the act itself.

On that same left-hand navigation menu, when you are on the “History and Culture” page, you will see the option to click on “People” or “Collections.” Under “Collections,” you can find a photo gallery titled “Freeman Family Scrapbook,” which are images from the early 20th century.

The site also provides a how-to on searching for genealogy of homesteaders.

And like most of the National Park sites, the Homestead National Monument has a photos and multimedia page.


National Parks/Monuments sites worth exploring:


NPS also have a YouTube channel and when you search “history” on that channel, you are returned with videos like “Andersonville National Historic Site”


Finally, the NPS is partnered with The Florida Center For Educational Technology at the University of South Florida.

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About Jessica Luther

Historian, Writer, Journalist, Activist
This entry was posted in Exploring Online. Bookmark the permalink.

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