If you watched episode 5 of Ken Burns’ The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, you may recall that the renown landscape photographer Ansel Adams (1902 —1984) once worked for the National Park Service. Prior to that assignment, Adams was with the Sierra Club, and in that capacity, he lobbied Harold Ickes, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Interior, to preserve Kings Canyon, a remote area east of Fresno, California, as a national park.
Kearsage Pinnacles, Kings River Canyon (Proposed as a national park), California, 1936. ARC Identifier 519921
Adams’ work for the NPA focused in particular on the Western National Parks, especially Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Canyon, Grand Tetons, Great Rocky Mountains, and Glacier. The Ansel Adams Gallery and the NPS Yosemite National Park site include biographies of Adams, and his life was the subject of another production for PBS’s American Experience production, Ansel Adams: A Documentary Film, written and directed by Ric Burns, Ken Burns’ brother.
For the most part, Ansel Adams’s work is not in the public domain. However, the National Archives holds 222 copy negatives of Adams’s work for the government, and these 222 images are. According to the Archival Description for “Ansel Adams: Photographs of National Parks and Monuments,”
The original negatives were retained by Ansel Adams. Reproductions of items in this series are made from copy negatives produced by the National Archives. The photographic prints in this series are in the public domain. In correspondence dated August 18, 1942, from Adams to E. K. Burlew, First Assistant Secretary, Department of the Interior, Adams states that the photographs are the property of the U.S. Government.
All images in the post are by Ansel Adams, all courtesy of the National Archives.
View from river valley towards snow covered mountains, river in foreground from left to right, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. ARC Identifier 519905
View with rock formation in foreground, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. ARC Identifier 519881
View from North Rim, 1941, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona. ARC Identifier 519901
Full view of mountain, Going-to-the-Sun Mountain, Glacier National Park, Montana. ARC Identifier 519866
Mountain partially covered with clouds, Glacier National Park, Montana. ARC Identifier 519860
View of cactus and surrounding area Saguaros, Saguaro National Monument, Arizona. ARC Identifier 519975
Old Faithful Geyser Erupting in Yellowstone National Park. ARC Identifier 519994
“The Giant Dome, largest stalagmite thus far discovered. It is 16 feet in diameter and estimated to be 60 million years old.” Hall of Giants, Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico. ARC Identifier 520029