This grant was originally approved for 2020, but the planned work was unable to take place, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project was approved again for 2021.

Project goal: Unearth and share stories about African Americans who lived in, worked in and visited Yosemite during the past 150 years.

Why this work matters: The basic, popularly told elements of Yosemite’s history as our third national park are well known, from the mid-1800s legislation that designated the Valley and Mariposa Grove as public lands, to a modern-day reputation as a global hub for climbers, hikers, backpackers and sightseers. Current educational resources about Yosemite’s history, however, often don’t capture the whole story — and don’t reflect the diversity of people who have connections to the park, either in years past or as present-day rangers, researchers, visitors and stewards.

Many stories remain untold, left out of official records and guidebooks, including a notable lack of information about the history of Black and African American people in Yosemite. Through this project, they hope to fill the gap.

Researchers have found snippets of that history, including in correspondence from the park’s early years, and they are confident more documentation exists in journals, letters and other materials. This grant will help them dive into archives within and beyond the park, conduct extensive research, and then share findings with the public through podcasts and social media, and in a new resource manual for park educators and interpreters.

How your support helps: This research will help researchers and educators share more inclusive and accurate information about the park’s past 150 years, and will result in new resources that highlight important stories from Yosemite’s history.

Partnering with Yosemite National Park.

Laura Goforth

Education and Outreach Specialist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

"Yosemite National Park was first preserved over 150 years ago at a time when the voices and stories of African Americans were not considered an important part of our history... The lack of readily available and well-documented information of black and African American people in Yosemite creates a barrier in our ability to share more inclusive stories. For this reason, we have a dire need to conduct primary research and uncover lesser known stories."