Established by Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, Yellowstone was the first National Park in the United States. Management of the park was first given to the Secretary of the Interior who maintained control until 1886. From 1886 to 1916, the U.S. Army managed the park. However, with the entry of the United States into WWI, management was transferred a final time to the newly formed National Park Service which has been responsible for the park ever since. Attracting at least 3.5 million visitors each year, Yellowstone is a popular tourist destination that is well known for its geysers and hot springs and for its unique wildlife.
Brigham Young University’s Yellowstone National Park collection has at its core two great private collections of Yellowstone National Park items. The first was donated to the university by A. Dean and Jean M. Larsen of Provo, Utah. They gave their collection of more than 2,000 Yellowstone items to the university library’s L. Tom Perry Special Collections. The second was acquired from Ron and Jane Lerner of Bozeman, Montana and consists of more than 800 Yellowstone items. Curators in the Perry Special Collections continue to add unique items to the collection each year.
The Larsen Yellowstone Collection has as a core two great private collections of Yellowstone Park material. The first came to the Lee Library in 2000 when A. Dean Larsen and Jean M. Larsen gave their collection of more than 2,000 Yellowstone items to the library's L. Tom Perry Special Collections. At the time of this donation, the collection was considered one of the premier private collections of Yellowstone material and contained many scarce and unusual items.
The Larsen Yellowstone Collection is the natural complement to the collections of Western Americana in the Perry Special Collections, and reflects a life-long passion for Yellowstone shared by Dean and Jean Larsen. Visiting the park for the first time in 1940, Dean was captivated by the beauty, history, and geology of the park. An outgrowth of his interest was collecting books, maps, photographs, and other materials related to Yellowstone. The breadth of this collection reflects more than sixty years and untold thousands of dollars investing in collecting these often-unique materials. Sadly, Dean Larsen, who before he retired was head of acquisitions for the Lee Library, passed away on May 29, 2002, after a long, valiant battle with cancer.
The companion collection to the Larsen donation is a library of more than 800 items assembled by Ron and Jane Lerner of Bozeman, Montana--evaluated by one rare book dealer as "the finest in public hands." Ron, a friend of Dean's and fellow Yellowstone devotee, who had collected some of the rarest and most difficult-to-find publications in the park, approached us in 2006 with a proposal to sell a portion of his collection and donate the remainder. Not needing any prodding, we immediately went to work to find a donor who would be interested in providing the resources needed to make this happen. Rex and Ruth Maughan, long-time friends of the university and generous patrons of Special Collections, eagerly agreed to provide the funding for this purchase. As it turned out, they, too, had a keen interest in Yellowstone Park.
Yellowstone National Park has captured the hearts of many visitors over the years, but we're most grateful for its impact on the Larsens, Lerners, and Maughans, who have assembled for the faculty and students at Brigham Young University--and indeed scholars everywhere--a priceless archive of material on one of the world's great natural wonders. Not only have we acquired two fine private libraries, but in the process we have built a truly world-class collection of scarce, unusual, and valuable materials on Yellowstone Park.
Larry Draper and Russ Taylor, Co-curators, Larsen Yellowstone Collection, 2008