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Breeches, Blouses, and Skirts




Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

National Park Service Uniforms
Breeches, Blouses, and Skirts 1918-1991
Number 4


woman's uniform

The National Park Service has, for most of its existence, been a male dominated organization. Women's role in the Service was never clearly defined until the 1960's, at which time a Victorian mentality prevailed, treating them as objects to be protected, instead of the ranger status to which they aspired.

Women have been on the Service payroll since 1918, for the most part as ranger-naturalists, although many of them occasionally performed actual ranger duties.

It is somewhat ironic that women in the parks should have worn men's pattern uniforms at the beginning of their involvement with the Service and after many years of finagling with a uniform of their own, end up looking like their male counterparts, or should we say, like a ranger.

In between they were dressed like WAAC's (Women's Auxiliary Army Corps), then a couple variations of airline stewardess, followed by a collage of fashion plates, all of which, while reasonably suitable for the Service's idea of the woman's role (teaching, receptionists, and other Visitor Center duties), were totally inadequate for that aspect of service desired by the women themselves, primarily field duty.

Even the outdoor functions assigned to female ranger-naturalists, such as trail guides and nature walks and talks in the woods found the clothing wanting. So much so, that women in some of the parks, notably Yosemite, with their superintendent's collusion, purchased and wore men's clothing while performing these duties.

Women have fought hard and served well as they worked toward their goal of equality with their male counterparts. At times, it seemed the Service was acquiescent, only to be saddled with clothing less suitable than that in use. This was a frustrating period in the lives of uniformed female personnel.

In all fairness to the Park Service, while some may have been attempting to elevate the women on a pedestal most did not seek, nor wish, others simply miss-read the desires of those women in the field who would be wearing the prescribed clothing.

It took fifty years for women in the Service to achieve the true status of Ranger and another ten to acquire all the trappings thereof. But in the end, those women who fought the good fight and those that followed were rewarded for their perseverance.

As with the previous books in this series, this volume has been a group effort and I would like to thank all those people, in and out of the National Park Service, whose immeasurable and unstinting assistance have made this publication possible. I would especially like to thank Gary Cummins, Manager, Harpers Ferry Center, and Michael Alvarez for helping me maneuver through the bureaucracy to get this published; Polly Kaufman for allowing me access to her research on women in the parks; Tom DuRant, that denizen of the National Park Historic Photo Collections for his assistance in locating many of the images used; and last, but by no means least, I wish to thank the many unsung heroes, too many to name, that dwell in the depths of archives throughout the Park System.

R. Bryce Workman
Harpers Ferry Center


Last Modified: Wed, Dec 20 2000 11:30:00 pm PDT

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