Mar 15

Celebrating Women’s History Month in Yellowstone

Throughout the history of Yellowstone National Park, women have held important and storied roles in its preservation and perseverance. In honor of International Women’s Month, here are two remarkable women who have contributed to the wonder and legacy of the world’s first national park.


Marguerite Lindsley

In 1925, Marguerite Lindsley became first full-time permanent female park ranger not only in Yellowstone, but in the National Park System. Lindsley had a unique childhood — she was actually born and raised in Yellowstone! Lindsley grew up in Mammoth where her father first worked for the Army and then as interim Superintendent of Yellowstone.

Among other duties, Lindsley worked as a seasonal naturalist while completing her undergraduate studies at Montana State University. When she graduated with her master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, she was hired on full-time. As the first permanent female ranger, Lindsley faced adversity.

Not everyone felt that women should hold positions in the park. As Lindsley wrote, “many still think that women’s work should be inside and it is a problem sometimes to satisfy everyone even tho [sic] I may be qualified for the work in the field.” As the first female ranger, Lindsley also had to design her own uniform!

Read more about Lindsley on the National Park Service blog.


Herma Albertson Baggley

Herma Albertson Baggley worked as Yellowstone National Park’s first female permanent naturalist in the 1930s. Baggley left an extensive legacy when she passed away in 1981. She co-wrote the still-referenced guide Plants of Yellowstone National Park and was the first person to identify the rubber boa snake!

Baggley was born in Iowa and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Idaho, graduating with a masters in botany. Baggley first came to Yellowstone as a seasonal employee in 1929 and 1930. In 1931 she became the park’s first female full-time naturalist ranger.

As Baggley wrote in her Plants of Yellowstone National Park guide: “Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what a drab place this world would be, were it not beautified by the infinite variety of forms of plant life.”

Read more about Baggley on the National Park Service blog.


Book: Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legends, and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park

In her one-of-a-kind book, author Elizabeth Watry shares stories of the female legends of Yellowstone. Women in Wonderland highlights the experiences of 12 women who, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, elected not to be bound by tradition and pursued adventure in Yellowstone. A published author with several books on Yellowstone National Park, Women in Wonderland won the 2013 WILLA Literary Award for Scholarly Non-fiction.

“For so long, Yellowstone National Park has needed a book about the women who stood and today stand tall in its history. At long last, Elizabeth Watry has produced it” – Lee Whittlesey, Park Historian, National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park.

“Betsy Watry tells the tales of a dozen women, some of whom had short-lived adventures in Yellowstone National Park, but most of whom spent decades as rangers, scientists, interpreters, and entrepreneurs, shaping the ark’s physical and cultural landscape. This is a wonderful ‘hidden’ history, full of surprising stories, grounded in intensive research and written with charm.” —Dr. Mary Murphy, historian and author of Hope in Hard Times