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UW Libraries, MSU Library to Co-Host Conference on Documenting Yellowstone

September 20, 2021
man standing outdoors with mountain in background
Dayton Duncan

A conference focused on collecting, preserving and using materials that document the history of Yellowstone National Park will take place next summer at Montana State University (MSU).

University of Wyoming Libraries and the MSU Library will co-host the second “Conversations on Collecting Yellowstone” June 5-8, 2022, in Bozeman, Mont. The conference coincides with the 150th anniversary of the creation of Yellowstone National Park. The first “Conversations on Collecting Yellowstone” conference was held in 2019 in Cody.

Scholars, researchers, private collectors, librarians and archivists are invited to the conference to explore collections, scholarship and research related to the park and its greater ecosystem, as well as look to the future of collecting and curating these materials.

The conference will feature speakers, panel presentations, social events and networking opportunities. Dayton Duncan, an award-winning writer and documentary filmmaker, will be the conference’s keynote speaker. Tickets for the keynote speech will be available to the public for purchase.

Duncan is the author of 13 books, including “Out West: A Journey Through Lewis & Clark’s America,” which chronicles his retracing of the Lewis and Clark trail; “Miles From Nowhere: In Search of the American Frontier,” examining the current conditions, history and people of the most sparsely settled counties in the United States; and “Seed of the Future: Yosemite and the Evolution of the National Park Idea.”

For nearly 30 years, Duncan has been involved with the work of documentary filmmaker Ken Burns as a writer and producer, including “The West,” which won the Erik Barnouw Award from the Organization of American Historians. He was the writer and producer of “Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery,” which attained the second-highest ratings (following “The Civil War”) in the history of PBS and received numerous honors, including a Western Heritage award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.

vintage books displayed on a table
These Yellowstone National Park books belong to the Grace Raymond Hebard and Howard H. Hays collections as part of UW Libraries’ Emmett D. Chisum Special Collections in Coe Library. (UW Photo)

The conference also will include a vendor fair June 6-7, which will be open to conference attendees and the public. A post-conference tour will visit Jackson and Yellowstone National Park June 9-11.

“As a premier research center on Yellowstone, we are pleased to join with the MSU Library for this conference,” says Ivan Gaetz, dean of UW Libraries. “Our keynote, Dayton Duncan, narrated much of the acclaimed Ken Burns PBS documentary on the national parks, where Yellowstone takes pride of place as the first national park in the United States. This PBS series, famously subtitled ‘America’s Best Idea,’ stems from various phrases that appear at least twice in published essays by the esteemed writer and environmentalist Wallace Stegner. In that context, the two ‘Conversations on Collecting Yellowstone’ conferences are some of our libraries’ ‘best ideas,’ especially since we get to celebrate Yellowstone’s sesquicentennial in 2022.”       

Conference organizers are seeking proposals for moderated discussions and panel presentations on a variety of topics. Proposals will be accepted until Dec. 3. More information about the call for proposals is available at

Conference registration is expected to open Feb. 1. For more information about the conference, visit

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