The National Park Service issued its first badge in June 1920, shortly after approving regulations that defined the first standard uniform for park rangers and officers. The officers included men who served as directors and assistant directors, superintendents, supervisors, and similar positions. Until then, most rangers wore badges on civilian clothes.
The new permanent ranger uniform consisted of the coat, riding breeches, leather puttees and shoes, wide-brimmed Stetson hat, grey wool shirt, and a dark green tie. The uniform was optional for temporary rangers, but they were prescribed civilian clothes to wear. Starting in 1923, they too were required to wear the standard National Park Service uniform.
When first issued, rangers and officers wore the silver shield-shaped badge marked “U.S. Park Ranger.” Within six months, some argued that chief rangers should have gold badges and that officers should not wear the same badges as rangers. These changes were approved in 1921. A new round badge, consisting of the coined center of the ranger badge, was created for the officers.
The authority and position reflected by the badge and concept of what defines a park ranger impacted badge designs and who was authorized to wear them for decades.