National Park Service directors and assistant directors wore the round gold badge until 1928. This badge was brought back into use in 1936 for park superintendents and custodians managing national monuments. Deputy superintendents wore round silver badges. The “U.S. Park Ranger” badge continued to be worn by rangers until 1960. Badges for other positions were discussed in 1940 but not introduced until after World War II.
The first shield-shaped badges were flat and made in two-pieces. In 1930, one-piece flat badges were introduced, likely to save money. Since 1946, NPS badges have been dapped, creating a convex shape which allows for the pin and creates a better look when worn.
By 1946, there were seven different badges. In addition to the two round badges and the gold chief ranger badge, distinctions were made between park rangers responsible for law enforcement and park guards, wardens, and guides. In 1960 the badge design changed, as did who could wear it.
The eagle in the center of the badge now faced right rather than left. Superintendents wore a new gold “National Park Ranger” badge and all rangers wore the same badge in silver. A new “National Park Service” silver badge was created for all other uniformed employees except women, boat crews, lifeguards, nurses, and fire control aids. However, many women did wear this badge.