Skip to Content

Women's History in National Parks

For decades women have played a key role in the development, maintenance, and preservation of our national parks. NPF is committed to helping the National Park Service preserve and share more of the extraordinary and everyday lives of these women.
Support Women in Parks Grants
  • Telling a Broader History
    National parks across the country preserve and share stories of visionary women, trailblazers who dared to imagine a different future. We continue to illuminate new stories, contributing to our collective history.
  • Then, Now, and Beyond
    With over 400 national parks across the country, there are endless women's stories to share. NPF is dedicated to supporting, uncovering, and amplifying these stories in parks, as well as championing the women in our parks today.
  • NPF's Commitment
    NPF helps elevate and preserve women's history through our Women in Parks program and across various NPF programs, including service corps, internships, fellowships, and more.

Women's Stories in Our National Parks

It's hard to imagine what America would be like today without the contributions of dedicated, passionate women such as Maggie L. Walker or Clara Barton. For everyone traveling to national parks in search of fascinating tales about pivotal historical figures, there are quite a few places where you can learn about the women who helped shape our American history, as well as those who continue to envision our future.

Every national park has a deep connection to women. Some parks are dedicated to the life and legacy of one figure or group of individuals, such as Harriet Tubman National Historical Park or Freedom Riders National Monument. These places focus on the stories and impact of those who shaped our nation, including the women who dared to imagine a different future. Memorials serve as a reminder of those we've lost as well as the legacy of unsung sacrifices of countless others. Parks known for their landscapes and scenic vistas, such as Biscayne National Park or Cape Hatteras National Seashore, continue to depend upon the work of women to study and conserve these treasured places so they are enjoyed by future generations.

For over 100 years, our national parks have reflected not only our history, but also our present and future. NPF's work supporting history and culture programs and projects helps increase access to places, cultural resources, and stories that help all people gain a deeper understanding of parks as our common ground and shared inheritance. Women's narratives have - and continue to - shape the history of the United States, from the extraordinary to the everyday, and play a pivotal role in telling the story of our national parks.

NPF's Work in This Space

NPF supports national parks, programs, and projects that highlight the stories of women who made history and those who continue to shape our future.

  • Visitor in a hallway with numerous paintings and busts of suffragists
    Women in Parks
    NPF's Women in Parks program, launched in 2020, is helping highlight the contributions women have made to our country and the role they continue to play.
  • typewriter and phone on a desk
    NPS Mellon Humanities Fellowship
    Established in 2019, NPF's Mellon Humanities Fellowship program supports the work of humanities scholars whose research and analysis of the complex and fascinating histories in and around our parks helps us discover untold perspectives and new voices.
  • Park visitor using New Bedford Shoreside Industries app
    Inclusive Storytelling
    Inclusive Storytelling grants support contemporary research in parks, as well as projects that transform this research into relevant interpretative products – from interpretive park programs and exhibits to websites and videos.

Recent Projects

Explore just some of the projects supported by NPF that help preserve and share the stories of women in our national parks.

  • High overhead shot of paddlers in a canal on a sunny summer day
    Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
    Suffrage Rallies & the Erie Canal
    A Women in Parks grant helped produce a video program highlighting the women who traversed the Erie Canal to attend suffrage rallies in Seneca Falls, NY.
  • Steps leading up to a memorial garden in bloom and water feature
    César E. Chávez National Monument
    Women's Contributions to the Labor Movement
    Thanks to an NPF Women in Parks grant, César E. Chávez National Monument conducted a research project to develop future in-park programs highlighting women's contributions to the labor movement.
  • Stone steps leading up to a domed structure
    Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument
    Highlighting Carrie A. Tuggle
    An NPF Women in Parks grant brought a new program to life at Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument, which will research and develop educational materials on the life of Carrie A. Tuggle, a prominent civil rights activist.
  • Archival photo of a blue banner that reads "Women in Government Service" on a white backdrop
    Belmont-Paul Women's Equality National Monument
    Protecting Artifacts at Belmont-Paul
    When Washington, D.C.’s Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument underwent restoration, a 2022 NPF grant made sure precious artifacts donated to the site when the National Women’s Party disbanded were safely moved, stored, and reinstalled.
  • A person holds a bundle of nets on sticks, standing on an elevated wooden walkway
    Survey Says
    Undertaking Nationwide Research
    To commemorate the centennial of the 19th amendment, NPF released the findings of a new study showing Americans wish they knew more about U.S. women's history. In the survey, 74% of respondents indicated it is extremely or very important that national parks connect people to history.
  • Copper mine shaft at Keweenaw National Historical Park
    Keweenaw National Historical Park
    Women's Political Activity in Keweenaw
    An NPF Women in Parks grant helped Keweenaw National Historical Park in Michigan expand interpretations of women’s history and their contributions to the copper mining industry and labor strike politics in the early 20th century.
  • Outdoor exhibit poster hanging from an open structure
    Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park
    Honoring Coretta Scott King
    A 2021 NPF’s African American Experience Fund supported the development of an exhibit at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park exploring and honoring the life and contributions of Coretta Scott King.
  • A river, surrounded by trees, stretches towards rolling mountains
    Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area
    Recording the Experiences of Northern Arapaho Women
    A 2020 Women in Parks grant from NPF supported the “Lifting Voices from the Shadows” project at Cache la Poudre National Heritage Area, recording and archiving the personal experiences of Northern Arapaho women. Their stories will be used to create materials such as educational videos, webinars, and future in-park programming.
  • A bench sits outside the entrance to the Homestead Heritage center.
    Homestead National Historical Park
    Women Homesteaders & The Suffrage Movement
    NPF provided funds to Homestead National Historical Park to research and share resources and programs about female homesteaders and their efforts to challenge voting restrictions prior to passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. 
  • Small stones lead into a clear river
    Acadia National Park
    Sharing the Stories of Women in Acadia
    Acadia National Park developed women’s history interpretive materials and made stories more accessible for staff, supported by a Women in Parks grant from NPF. Funds helped the park move towards more fully representing women and their history in the park. 
  • Photo of a wayside exhibit titled "Warm Springs Camp," featuring a black and white photograph of a woman and a dog
    Death Valley National Park
    Unsung Women's Histories in Death Valley
    An NPF Women in Parks grant supported a project to uncover and disseminate stories of women’s life and work at Death Valley. A research historian explored material for programming and exhibits, published women’s biographies on the park website, and designed a new wayside exhibit at a mine in the park that was owned and operated by a woman. 
  • Vintage photo of women in ranger uniforms
    NPS Park History Program
    Collecting Oral Histories of Women in NPS
    An NPF Women in Parks grant allowed NPS’s Park History Program to create an oral history collection of women who broke barriers and worked for change in the NPS. The research collection will be available in archives at the NPS History Collection, a resource that’s representative of and able to be used by all parks and programs. 

Related Stories

  • A river, surrounded by trees, stretches towards rolling mountains
    Park Spotlight
    10 National Parks that Celebrate Women's History
    Join us in exploring just some of the places and NPF projects that share the stories of women throughout our multi-faceted history.
  • Vintage photo of a NPS employee in uniform
    Program Update
    Women and Park History
    Learn about the work of two Women in Parks interns, whose research explored new angles of lesser-known history at Tumacácori National Historical Park and Harpers Ferry Center for Media Services.
  • Vintage photograph of two women smiling as they demonstrate beading and cornhusk weaving
    NPS Resource
    Women's History in the Pacific West
    Explore a selection of biographies of women in the western U.S., compiled in a project made possible in part by a grant from NPF and conducted in partnership with the University of California Davis History Department.
  • Mound covered in grass with a wooden frame entrance
    NPS Resource
    Women and the Environment
    Discover stories of women engaging with the environment on a local and global level, as well as how past environmental changes have affected women’s lives.
  • Tania C Parra Ramírez holds a clipboard
    NPS Resource
    Women and Science
    NPF has supported NPS efforts to champion the work of NPS women conservationists. Through their “Dare to Imagine” initiative, NPS created a platform to showcase the conservation articles, videos, and social media content created by trailblazing NPS women.