BADGES and UNIFORM ORNAMENTATION
of the NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
From the early days of Yellowstone National Park, there was a need to distinguish the men who would protect the national parks from those who would damage them. The early rangers, such as Harry Yount, did not wear uniforms and may or may not have carried a badge. The first clear reference to badges for rangers relates to their use by Yellowstone park scouts. The 1898 U.S. Department of the Interior badge was evidently the first universal badge to be used by the "forest rangers," as the rangers in Interior's parks as well as forest reserves were then called. From then until the first uniform came into being a decade later, badges were all that identified rangers. The uniform enabled the greater public recognition that was desired.
In the beginning, the National Park Service had the trappings of a military unit similar to the U.S. Army, which it replaced in some of the western parks. Materials and ornamentation for the officers (those who were not rangers) were of higher quality than those for the rangers. Officers wore serge instead of heavy wool and gold fill instead of nickel plate or German silver. Patches, or brassards as they were called, were worn on the sleeve to distinguish the various positions. These distinctions came to an end, for the most part, in 1928 when it was decided to raise the ranger in the field to the same level as those in administration. Rangers of the National Park Service have guarded the Nation's parks well over the years, making their mark in the history of this country in the process and as such, deserve recognition.
The following history of the various articles of adornment that have been used over the years to identify the National Park Service ranger was first published in 1991 as Number 1, "Badges and Insignia", in a series of books covering the uniforms of the National Park Service. This information was gleamed from public records as well as the National Parks Service History Collection (NPSHC) of badges and insignia that have been donated over the years by people interested in perpetuating the history of what the "man in the field" wore. So much information has come to light since that original publication, making this revision necessary in order to properly illustrate the various adornments of the ranger uniform. Past and present National Park Service employees plus a small but elite band of private collectors have helped immensely in this endeavor by opening their minds and boxes of treasured memorabilia. I would like to especially thank Tom DuRant, photo curator of the National Park Service History Photograph Collection (NPSHPC), for his invaluable assistance in illustrating this work with its many historical images and Deryl Stone and Rick Howard for allowing me access to their collections. As with any treatise, such as this, many others, often unsung, have contributed greatly to it's success. I wish to thank David Nathanson, librarian at Harpers Ferry Center, for his assistance and inspiration, Barry Mackintosh for his superb editing of my original work, and the myriad others throughout the National Park Service, and other institutions, for their unstinting help in pulling the imagery and documentation together.
R. Bryce Workman