A Woman to Know: Herma Baggley

The day a park employee's marriage license becomes her discharge papers is long past. — Herma Baggley

(image via National Parks Service)


As the first female naturalist to work in the National Parks Service, Herma knew she had a pretty big job — actually, more like two jobs.

She had her usual duties — carefully laying the first nature trail around the Old Faithful Geyser, documenting the flora and fauna in Yellowstone, leading tour groups through the park's natural wonders — and also her "first woman" duties — organizing the other women in the National Park Service Women's Union, fighting with male rangers to ensure ladies had suitable housing inside the park, and (*eye roll*) dealing with mansplaining tourists who'd quote her own research back to her.

But within the park, Herma felt at peace. Other rangers remembered the thick notebook she'd carry on her solo nature walks, where she'd press unusual flowers and neatly document her observations. She eventually collected these notes in a book, "Plants of the Yellowstone Park" — it's now required reading for any Yellowstone ranger.

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