Harold C. Bryant was born in Pasadena, California, on January 30,
1886. He received an undergraduate degree (BS) from Pomona College,
majoring in zoology/ornithology, and a MS and PhD in zoology from the
University of California, Berkeley. From 1914 to 1930, he served with
the California Fish and Game Commission, was a lecturer and field trip
leader for UC Extension, and was a summer season ranger-naturalist at
Yosemite National Park.
As a result of an experiment to test the reaction of vacationers to
nature talks and trips at Lake Tahoe resorts, NPS Director Mather urged
that a similar program be started at Yosemite. Dr. Bryant and Dr. Loye
H. Miller, who had participated in the Tahoe experiment, were housed in
tents and furnished with only a table in the chief ranger's office.
Field trips, evening campfire talks, and established hours for answering
questions from park visitors were introduced and enthusiastically
accepted. Dr. Bryant served without cost to the federal government
until June 1923, when he was appointed as a seasonal park ranger. In
1925 Dr. Bryant was named as the first director of the Yosemite School
of Field Natural History to train naturalists. Emphasis was placed on
experience in the field, with lectures and books taking second
In 1930, to permit the NPS to implement a stronger interpretive and
educational approach to park management, Dr. Harold C. Bryant was given
his first permanent position with the National Park Service, assistant
director of the Branch of Research and Education, serving under both
Albright and Cammerer until 1938.
As consultant to the director, Dr. Bryant assisted in the
establishment of Olympic National Park during 1938 and was appointed as
acting superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park in 1939. In early
1940, Kings Canyon National Park was established, and Dr. Bryant
assisted in the organization of that area. He was appointed as
superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park on August 1, 1941, where he
served until his retirement on March 31, 1954.
He was a recipient of the Department of the Interior Distinguished
Service Award (1954) and received many other honorary awards and
recognitions during his career. He passed away in Berkeley, California,
on July 14, 1968, at the age of 82. Although Dr. Bryant was assuredly
responsible for any number of significant accomplishments with the
National Park Service, he was most proud of his role in establishing the
interpretive program in the National Park Service.