Women in Uniform

In 1918, Claire Marie Hodges, the first woman ranger, wore her badge on civilian clothes like other temporary rangers. Fourteen women were hired as park rangers between 1920 and 1927. Park superintendents used their discretion to determine who wore a uniform. Most of Yellowstone’s women rangers wore badges on the standard uniform coat or approved alternatives. In keeping with the earlier tradition, Yosemite’s temporary women rangers wore badges on their civilian clothes.

After 1928, the National Park Service rarely hired women as park rangers. While a handful were hired as ranger-naturalists in the late 1920s and early 1930s, it was difficult for women to secure these jobs. Most women in uniformed positions in the 1930s and 1940s worked at Carlsbad Caverns National Park or one of the Southwestern national monuments. Some of these rangers, naturalists, and park guides wore ranger badges.

During World War II, some women filled ranger positions left vacant by men who enlisted. After the war and throughout the 1950s, women were rarely hired for uniformed positions. After 1946, women who were hired would have likely worn the “park guide” badge. In the 1960s more women filled uniformed positions again. Hired mostly for jobs in interpretation, they could wear badges as specified for men. Historic photographs show that many women did wear a badge, likely depending on the superintendent preference, badge availability, or personal choice. The 1962 women’s uniform included an optional small arrowhead pin worn “in lieu of a badge.” Some complained about the lack of authority it conveyed.

The 1970 uniform, strikingly different from that of the men, eliminated the badge from women’s uniforms and replaced it with the National Park Service arrowhead patch, sparking protest. In 1974, a “women’s traditional uniform” with the badge was added for those working with the public. The dress uniform retained the arrowhead patch.

Carol Scanlon models the beige NPS women’s uniform dress, scarf, and broad brim hat. The uniform has an arrowhead patch instead of a ranger badge.
Miss Rolle stands smiling at a railing on top of steps. She wears the NPS women’s uniform skirt, blouse, and jacket with shield-shaped badge.
Three Women Wearing the 1974 Uniform with Arrowhead Patch
Martha Bingaman poses wearing a skirt, blouse, scarf, soft brimmed hat, and vest. She has a shield-shaped badge pinned to the vest.
Seven women pose with Thomas Boles inside a cave. They all wear NPS uniforms. Only Boles wears a broad brim hat and a round superintendent’s badge.
Three women stand in front of a visitor center building. They wear NPS uniform skirts, blouses, shield-shaped badges, and pillbox hats.
Carol Scanlon models the beige NPS women’s uniform dress, scarf, and broad brim hat. The uniform has an arrowhead patch instead of a ranger badge.
Silver arrowhead shaped pin with trees, mountains, bison, and words National Park Service.
Marion Riggs in NPS uniform skirt, blouse, small arrowhead pin, and pillbox hat sits between seven men standing in uniforms with shield-shaped badges.