In 1941 the National Park Service commissioned noted photographer Ansel Adams to create a photo mural for the Department of the Interior Building in Washington, DC. The theme was to be nature as exemplified and protected in the U.S. National Parks. The project was halted because of World War II and never resumed.
The holdings of the National Archives Still Picture Branch include 226 photographs taken for this project, most of them signed and captioned by Adams. They were taken at the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Kings Canyon, Mesa Verde, Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Carlsbad Caverns, Glacier, and Zion National Parks; Death Valley, Saguaro, and Canyon de Chelly National Monuments. Other pictures were taken at the Boulder Dam; Acoma Pueblo, NM; San Idelfonso, NM; Taos Pueblo, NM; Tuba City, AZ; Walpi, AZ; and Owens Valley, CA. Many of the latter locations show Navajo and Pueblo Indians, their homes and activities.
The Kings Canyon photographs were taken in 1936 when the establishment of the park was being proposed. These prints were added by Adams to the mural project. The one photograph of Yosemite was a gift from Adams to the head of the Park Service, Horace Albright, in 1933.
In addition, there are eight photographs taken by Adams of Yosemite in the General Photographic Files of the National Park Service. These photos may still be under copyright protection.
ACOMA PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO
An adobe house in Acoma Pueblo, New Mexico
BOULDER DAM, COLORADO RIVER
Looking across water at the Boulder dam, now known as the Hoover Dam, on the Colorado River.
CANYON DE CHELLY, ARIZONA
Panorama of Canyon de Chelly valley from atop a mountain.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, MONTANA
Summertime in Glacier National Park, Montana.
TAOS PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO
Photo of Taos, New Mexico taken in 1941.
GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING
“Mt. Moran, Teton National Park,” view across river valley toward Mt. Moran.
GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, ARIZONA
Afternoon photo of Grand Canyon National Park.
MESA VERDE NATIONAL PARK, COLORADO
Mesa Verde cliff dwellings in Southern Colorado.
SAN ILDEFONSO PUEBLO, NEW MEXICO
“Dance, San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico, 1942,” two Indians descending wooden stairs, carrying drums; another Indian and child near by.