Thesis

Creating connections to California's resources: the history of interpretation in California state parks

California was one of the first states in the nation to have a state park system. While a general history of the system up to 1980 has been written, the history of interpretation in the California Department of Parks and Recreation (more commonly know as California State Parks) had never been documented and analyzed in a single focused study. Of particular interest is how the evolution of interpretation in the California state park system compares to that in the rest of the United States, especially the National Park Service. 
 Data for this thesis was gathered from many sources. For the history of California State Parks interpretation these included the department document archives and photographic archives, the California State Archives, the Center for Sacramento History, California State Parks publications, and private collections of department documents made available to the author. The author also conducted three oral history interviews with past department employees. These oral histories will
 be deposited in the California State Parks Archives, in both digital recording and transcript form. The national context was also researched using a wide variety of sources. The website of the National Association for Interpretation and a publication from that organization provided a broad overview of the development of interpretation in the United States, as did seminal works on interpretation theory written throughout the twentieth century, and historical books and journal articles on interpretive techniques, trends, and issues. Additional information, especially on specific interpretive methods, came from the National Park Service. 
 The study reveals that interpretation became increasingly professionalized in California State Parks throughout the twentieth century, as it did nationwide during the same period. In virtually all cases, interpretive techniques, training and planning lagged behind the National Park Service—usually about a decade behind. The main reason for this seems to be chronically insufficient funding and staffing to carry out programs, not a lack of knowledge of what was occurring in the National Park Service and other agencies. In the case of distance learning, California State Parks was a pioneer, and still is ahead of the National Park Service and other park agencies in the nation in having a system-wide organized program of distance learning.

Thesis (M.A., History (Public History)--California State University, Sacramento, 2014.

California was one of the first states in the nation to have a state park system. While a general history of the system up to 1980 has been written, the history of interpretation in the California Department of Parks and Recreation (more commonly know as California State Parks) had never been documented and analyzed in a single focused study. Of particular interest is how the evolution of interpretation in the California state park system compares to that in the rest of the United States, especially the National Park Service. Data for this thesis was gathered from many sources. For the history of California State Parks interpretation these included the department document archives and photographic archives, the California State Archives, the Center for Sacramento History, California State Parks publications, and private collections of department documents made available to the author. The author also conducted three oral history interviews with past department employees. These oral histories will be deposited in the California State Parks Archives, in both digital recording and transcript form. The national context was also researched using a wide variety of sources. The website of the National Association for Interpretation and a publication from that organization provided a broad overview of the development of interpretation in the United States, as did seminal works on interpretation theory written throughout the twentieth century, and historical books and journal articles on interpretive techniques, trends, and issues. Additional information, especially on specific interpretive methods, came from the National Park Service. The study reveals that interpretation became increasingly professionalized in California State Parks throughout the twentieth century, as it did nationwide during the same period. In virtually all cases, interpretive techniques, training and planning lagged behind the National Park Service—usually about a decade behind. The main reason for this seems to be chronically insufficient funding and staffing to carry out programs, not a lack of knowledge of what was occurring in the National Park Service and other agencies. In the case of distance learning, California State Parks was a pioneer, and still is ahead of the National Park Service and other park agencies in the nation in having a system-wide organized program of distance learning.

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