About NPGallery and Yosemite NPGallery Digital Archive

Yosemite National Park NPGallery Digital Archive

This digital archive collection encompasses digital collections of Yosemite National Park. The digital collection shared through NPGallery is only a sampling of the larger collection. Additional collections will be added in the future. Details about the collections currently on NPGallery is listed below.

Yosemite Historic Photo Collection

There are over 20,000 historic images in the park archives and we refer to this as the "historic photo collection." Just over 6,500 of these images have been digitized. The history of researcher access to these photographs is almost as fascinating as the very history the photographs document. Originally, the park's archives were located in the attic of the Yosemite Museum in Yosemite Valley and was called the "Records Center." Staff and researchers obtained access by going to the Research Library, which moved to the second floor of the Yosemite Museum in 1967. Over the course of decades, photocards were created by the park staff which contained all known documentation about a given image with the print adhered to the card. These cards were organized by subject classifications and researchers would patiently flip through drawers of cards to find an image. The negatives were moved from the Research Library to cold storage in the park’s archives in El Portal in 2016. Cold storage is a preservation technique to extend the life of film.

In 2018, the Yosemite Archives was awarded a grant from Yosemite Conservancy to digitize historic negatives in the collections and make them accessible online for use by both park staff and the public. The photocards were moved from the Research Library to the Archives in 2018 when the project was initiated to facilitate data entry from the cards as the negatives were scanned. There are many steps involved in making these images available to the wider world, and thus far the grant has allowed the Yosemite Archives to research the copyright status of 8,000 images and digitally catalog the associated documentation on the photocards. This data about the images is what information professionals refer to as 'metadata'. The digital catalog enables the attachment of metadata to its respective digital image, allowing researchers to access both the photographs and associated metadata in one tidy package; just like an online photocard. Negatives are scanned only if copyright research reveals that they are in the public domain or are orphaned works. "Orphaned work" is a status of images with very little documentation that require due diligence to determine the creator and status. On the website, researchers will find a drop-down menu that replicates the original subject organization of the photocards. Anyone can search the entire database, or use these classifications to help narrow the search to a specific subject. All of the images were scanned at high resolution and may be downloaded for free. Although there is no need to contact the Yosemite Archives for permission to use these public images, a citation acknowledging the park is the custodian of these images is expected. If phase two of the project is funded, the Yosemite Archives will continue adding historic images to NPGallery for the public to browse and use.

Superintendent Reports circa 1892-2008

Annual reports of the Superintendent of National Parks to the Secretary of the Interior are official correspondence highlighting special events, park improvements, yearly statistics and planning which are summarized by park staff and often contain photo-documentation from project work and occasionally inserted maps/drawings.

Panoramic Fire Lookout Photographs, 1934-1935, 1937

This series consists of a set of forty panoramic photographs taken from fire lookouts and lookout points (proposed lookout sights) in Yosemite National Park. Most photographs were taken in 1934, though a few date to 1937. They appear to be part of a U. S. Forest Service (USFS) project conducted around this time, although scant documentation about the photographs and about the USFS project exists in the National Park Service (NPS) archives. Accompanying the images is a letter to Superintendent C.G. Thomson of Yosemite National Park, dated 1935 and signed by the project photographer, Lester M. Moe, USFS forester/photographer. The letter lists the panoramic photographs to be donated to a variety of Yosemite locations and is paired with a distribution list that outlines the specific photographs to be given to each ranger station, office, and lookout in Yosemite National Park and in Sierra and Stanislaus National Forests. The letter and envelope mention enclosed vertical angle scales (to assist with image viewing), but these are not present in the collection. Lookout points in Yosemite National Park contemporaneous with these photographs were the Merced Grove (Crane Flat) Lookout, Aspen Valley Lookout, Henness Ridge, Signal Peak, Pilot Peak, Smith Peak, Sentinel Dome, Bald Mountain, Wawona Point, and Wood’s Ridge.

About NPGallery

The NPGallery Digital Asset Management System is an enterprise system for storing, organizing, and sharing photos and other digital files. NPGallery's central online repository offers a place for the NPS to store digital assets, including photos, illustrations, audio files, videos, and documents. The NPGallery platform lets parks and other programs easily store and organize all of their digital files, and allows users access to easily find and retrieve specific files. NPGallery is a premier solution for NPS parks and programs who have a need to manage and disseminate large volumes of digital assets, with many people accessing and using those assets.

NPGallery supports a wide array of digital asset file types (images, MS office formats, adobe pdfs, audio files, videos). Digital assets have control access to those files to ensure they are used properly. NPGallery supports parks and programs with digital asset hosting and delivery services. Digital assets in the system can be provided for public use, or locked for discovery only by internal NPS users. NPGallery has terabytes of digital files of all types that are safely stored and quickly retrievable for NPS business needs.

NPGallery provides a simple text search and search by state and park options, or has the ability to “search more fields” for robust metadata searching. Search results can be refined by filtering options. NPGallery supports web services, support for embedded metadata, and integrated geospatial capabilities. NPGallery also has a responsive user interface design, and the interface will gracefully resize to match the size of the screen on your device, supporting mobile.

Web authors using the NPS.gov content management system(CMS) now use NPGallery as the source for all photo galleries shown in the CMS.

Benefits of NPGallery to Parks & Programs

The NPGallery platform lets parks and other programs easily store and organize all of their digital files, and allows users access to easily find and retrieve specific files. These images and other digital assets have a direct URL link and can be used on program web pages. Multiple file sizes of each digital asset are stored and available for use and download.

Contact the NPGallery staff to have us assist your park or program with your unique Digital Asset Management needs. Email: NPGallery@nps.gov

NPGallery has continued working with individual parks and programs to create individual portals. These semi-custom web pages allow NPS parks and programs to deliver digital assets from a unique web page that highlights and shares photos, documents, audio files, and videos. Searching the featured digital archive can be customized to help guide a user through discovering the valuable digital assets unique to each park or program.