NPS History Collection Tour

Go behind-the-scenes on a virtual tour of the National Park Service (NPS) History Collection. Discover objects, art, photographs, and uniforms that span more than 100 years of NPS history. Take our guided tour or choose your own path to explore the stories behind more than 80 rarely-seen objects.

Ways to Explore

  • Quick Tour: Launch the tour by selecting the play icon in the self-guided virtual tour image. When the tour opens, select the play button at the bottom left of the screen.
  • Object Tour: Launch the tour by selecting the play icon in the middle of the self-guided virtual tour image below. When the tour opens, click on the first hotspot (gray pencil symbol) to your right. A black box will open. Select "Dock" in the upper right corner. From there you can use the arrows to scroll through all objects one by one.
  • On Your Own: Launch the tour by selecting the play icon in the middle of the self-guided virtual tour image below. When the tour opens, click on the white circles to choose your path. Click on hotspots (green camera or gray pencil icons) of your choice.
  • Audio Described Video Walkthrough: Lauch the audio tour by selecting the play icon in the middle of the audio described image for a captioned video of the quick tour.
  • Object Transcript with Photo Descriptions: Use the obect transcript below to access all object text and alt text in one place. Browse through object titles or jump straight to a photo.

Viewing Tips

  • You can switch modes any time.
  • Use the search tool in the upper left of the tour player to jump straight to object view.
  • For best results explore the tour in full screen mode by clicking on the full screen icon in the bottom right after launching the tour.

Self-Guided Virtual Tour

Audio Described Video Walkthrough

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3 minutes, 6 seconds

NPS History Tour

Object Transcript with Photo Descriptions

NPS History Collection Virtual Tour object captions and photo descriptions The tour contains 85 descriptions. Each object caption is followed by a photo description.

Women were first hired as rangers in 1916, four years before the NPS adopted an official uniform for permanent rangers. In the 1920s, some women wore the standard uniform of breeches, boots, gray shirt, tie, coat, and Stetson hat. The earliest documented instance of a woman ranger wearing a skirt instead of breeches is Irene Wisdom at Yellowstone National Park in 1924. By the 1930s, skirts were an accepted change to the standard NPS uniform, and women no longer wore the Stetson hat. Skirts were mandated as part of the first separate women’s uniform adopted in 1943.


Mannequin wearing a green skirt, gray long-sleeved shirt, and green wool necktie. Worn with silver USNPS collar ornaments and a tie chain with a silver NPS arrowhead decoration.

The women’s 1962 uniform was designed for the jobs the NPS let women have. Reflecting an attitude that women were good hostesses, this uniform was based on one worn by airline stewardesses. The fitted shirts and jackets, together with skirts, pumps, and pillbox hats were worn by historians, docents in museums, and for other indoor work. Women were not hired as rangers, firefighters, or other “dirty” or difficult work deemed inappropriate for women.

Green wool shirt, white blouse, and a green short-waisted jacket with a shawl collar and an NPS arrowhead patch. Worn with silver USNPS collar ornaments, a green plastic nametag that reads “ALICE JO BJORK.” This style was inspired by airline stewardess uniforms.

As the 1970s dawned, women were no longer content to get the jobs the NPS thought were appropriate. More sought to be rangers and to have other “dirty” jobs. They also wanted to wear the same uniform as men. Although some women did get ranger jobs over time, the new uniform was a disappointment. Although it offered variety (and the first pants option since women stopped wearing breeches in the 1920s), it was an impractical fabric and color—and it didn’t look like or convey the authority of the NPS ranger uniform.

Mannequin wearing a tan dress with a white collar and a tan cardigan jacket with an NPS arrowhead patch on the left breast. Gold nametag above the patch reads “BETTY OTTO.”

Less than three years after adopting the tan uniforms, a new women’s uniform was created. Few saw it as an improvement. In fact, many women called it the “McDonald’s dress” because it resembled the fast-food chains uniforms. In addition to the dress, there was an optional pantsuit that could also be worn except on formal occasions. This dress was worn by Julia Holmaas and the scarf by Marjorie “Mike” Hackett.

Mannequin wearing in a dark green polyester dress with a front zip, two large patch pockets and an arrowhead patch. Worn with a white scarf printed with small NPS arrowheads and a gold nametag that reads “RUTH ANNE HERIOT.”

The 1974 uniform standard included a third uniform option for women who worked in the field. It was a step toward women once again being able to wear the same uniform as the men. The jacket style was different, and women wore a green dickey rather than a tie, but the gray shirt and green pants and jacket had a basic “ranger look.” This was the first women’s uniform to include hiking boots (although a few women wore them earlier when conducting outdoor tours). Uniform worn by Marjorie “Mike” Hackett.

Mannequin wearing green wool pants and waist-length, zip-up jacket, gray collared shirt, dark green dickey, and leather shoes. Silver USNPS collar ornaments on jacket.

The first official NPS uniform adopted in 1920 included a Stetson hat “either stiff or cardboard brim, belly color.” Belly was short for Belgian Belly, named after the reddish buff color of the underfur of the Belgian Hare from which many hats were made. In practice, it was a darker color than today’s winter flat hat. This hatbox belonged to William “Drew” Chick, Jr. who began his career as a temporary ranger at Sequoia National Park in 1934 and retired ca. 1982.

Oval maroon hatbox with “Stetson” written in gold script letters on the front.

Stetson hatboxes are very difficult to date. Without better corporate records, we often have to rely on knowledge of who owned the hat and hatbox, their career history, what they report about when they purchased or wore the hat, and other dated examples in museum collections.

Stetson hatboxes are very difficult to date. Without better corporate records, we often have to rely on knowledge of who owned the hat and hatbox, their career history, what they report about when they purchased or wore the hat, and other dated examples in museum collections.

Based on the name written on the top of this hatbox, it belonged to employee John Burns. However, we don’t know much about his career. This hatbox was dated by comparing it to a dated example in another collection.

Oval, gray hatbox with alternating pattern of “Stetson” and the company coat of arms around it and a dark gray lid.

This hatbox belonged to Betty Knight. She began her NPS career in September 1967 as a ranger-naturalist at Yellowstone National Park. She retired in February 2003 as senior curator for the NPS Alaska Region.

Round, orange hatbox with leather strap closure and a gold and black label reading “STETSON.”

This hatbox also belonged to William “Drew” Chick, Jr., suggesting that his first Stetson hat lasted ca. 15 years before it needed to be replaced. When Chick bought this one, he would have been working as a ranger-naturalist for the National Capital Parks. In May 1966, he transferred to the Eastern Service Center as a park planner. He was assigned to complete all the wilderness studies for the eastern parks as far west as Isle Royal.

Oval, light green hatbox with a dark green lid with “STETSON” in light green letters.

Rectangular hat boxes like this one became popular in the 1960s. This one belonged to S. Preston Smith. He worked at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in the early 1960s. In 1967 he transferred to Antietam National Battlefield and later on to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, where he was still working in 1986.

Rectangular tan hatbox with the Stetson Company coat of arms on the short ends of the box. Lid is also tan with the coat of arms on it, red edges with “STETSON” on the short sides.

This hatbox was sold with the “Open Road” style of Stetson which was worn as part of the 1972 urban ranger uniform. It belonged to Tom White who worked at the NPS Harpers Ferry Center. Given that it post- dates 1970, it’s likely that the box and its hat were not made by the John B. Stetson Company (which closed its Philadelphia factory in 1970) but rather by another company under a licensing agreement with Stetson.

Rectangular black and white hatbox with “STETSON” and the company coat of arms in orange.

This was the first silkscreen park poster made in August 1938 by Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California. It’s not clear how many Grand Teton posters were made but most posters were printed in runs of 100. As the first poster, a smaller run is more likely than a larger one. Only three surviving examples have been found. WPA artists made thirteen designs for 12 parks. Examples of 11 of the posters have been found. Although over 1,000 posters were printed, less than 50 are known to exist today.

Four-color silkscreen poster advertising the ranger naturalist service at the Jenny Lake Museum at Grand Teton National Park. Features a view across a lake towards mountains.

This Glacier silkscreened poster was made in January 1939 by Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Records indicate that 175 were made but only 125 were shipped, suggesting perhaps that the printing process had issues. Only two surviving examples have been found.

Six-color silkscreen poster advertising the ranger naturalist service at Glacier National Park, featuring a lake, trees, and a mountain.

This silkscreen Zion poster was made in March 1939. One hundred were printed by Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Only two surviving examples have been found.

Six-color silkscreen poster advertising the ranger naturalist service at Zion National Park and its programs, featuring Great White Throne mesa with trees at its base.

This Yosemite silkscreen poster was made in April 1939. Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California printed 100 of them. This is the only known surviving example.

Five-color silkscreen poster advertising the ranger naturalist service at Yosemite National Park, featuring a purple cliff, blue sky, green trees, and a list of interpretive services offered to the public.

Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California produced two poster designs for Yellowstone National Park in October 1939. This poster of Old Faithful and another one featuring Yellowstone Falls were created by WPA artist Chester Don Powell. It’s believed that only 50 of each poster was printed. Only three confirmed Old Faithful posters and one Yellowstone Falls have been found.

Six-color silkscreen poster advertising the Yellowstone National Park Ranger Naturalist Service programs featuring Old Faithful geyser.

One hundred of these posters were made in January1940 by unknown Works Progress Administration (WPA) artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California. Six have been found to date.

Six-color silkscreen poster advertising the ranger naturalist service at Mount Rainier National Park and its services, featuring a river, trees, and a view of Mount Rainier.

The Bandelier silkscreen poster, printed in April 1941, was the last in the series made by the artists working at the NPS Western Museum Laboratory. As 1941 progressed and the United States entered World War II, the New Deal relief programs ended, and workers joined the war effort. It’s estimated that seven of these posters survive intact.

Six-color silkscreen poster advertising guided trips through the ruins at Bandelier National Monument featuring a woman climbing down a ladder into a kiva.

Pen used by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916, to sign the law that established the National Park Service (NPS).

Marbled brown and orange dip pen.

Although the uniform standards changed several times between 1920 and 1936, the early “ranger look” largely remained the same. Changes are often subtle but key features to compare when examining uniform coats (also called “blouses”) are the number of buttons and how they are attached, pocket type, badge tab (to hold the badge), and the type of belt. This 1937 uniform closes with four sewn-on NPS buttons, has bellows pockets, does not have a badge tab, and does not have a belt. It belonged to temporary ranger Forrest Swisher at Yellowstone National Park. He was a contemporary of Gerald R. Ford, the only US president to have been a park ranger (at Yellowstone in 1936). Swisher went on to become a medical doctor, but he and President Ford remained life-long friends.

Green wool uniform breeches and coat with a gray collared shirt and green tie. Worn with gold USNPS collar ornaments and a ranger badge.

Boots like these were part of the NPS uniform standards until 1947 but could still be worn after that if they were in good condition. These belonged to ranger Donald McHenry who worked for the NPS from 1932 until 1956.

Brown, knee-high leather boots with laces.

The 1947 uniform blouse has three sewn-on NPS buttons to close the coat. Other changes include patch pockets instead of bellows pockets and a new fabric belt that goes around the entire waist (vs. later half belts). There isn’t a badge tab yet on the left pocket. Note that this blouse doesn’t have an NPS arrowhead patch on the left shoulder as it wasn’t introduced until 1952. A fabric band with embroidered three stars on it is sewn at the left cuff. These “service stars” were authorized to denote years of service in the NPS. This uniform was worn by William “Drew” Chick, Jr.

Mannequin torso wearing a green wool coat worn over a gray shirt with a dark green tie. The coat has two large front patch pockets with flaps and two smaller breast pockets with flaps.

By 1956, the uniform blouse had evolved somewhat while keeping the basic “ranger look.” Note that only three sewn-on buttons close the coat. There are patch pockets instead of bellows pockets and two silk corded loops sewn on the left breast pocket to hold the badge. The NPS arrowhead patch on the left sleeve was introduced in 1952.

Mannequin torso wearing a green wool coat worn over a gray shirt with a dark green tie. The coat has two large front patch pockets with flaps and two smaller breast pockets with flaps.

In the early 1970s women were once again being hired as park rangers, both in interpretation and law enforcement. This uniform was worn by Sherrie Collins at Grand Canyon National Park. Earlier in her career at the park, Collins responded to a small plane crash. She went on to become the park’s chief of emergency services. She retired in 2006.

Green zip-up vest with a sewn-on ranger shield worn over a long- sleeved gray shirt with arrowhead patch and a black turtleneck shirt. Gold nametag on the vest reads “SHERRIE COLLINS.” Includes leather duty belt with pistol holder and handcuffs case as well as a wooden baton.

Although people are aware of wildfire (and to a lesser degree even prescribed fire for resource management purposes) in national parks, they don’t always think of park rangers as structural firefighters. Protecting historic park structures and other infrastructure takes special training. This firefighter uniform was worn by ranger Rob Danno on the structure fire team at Bryce Canyon National Park.

Yellow pants with red and black suspenders and a reflective orange stripe around each ankle. Worn over black and yellow steel-toed rubber boots. Yellow jacket with reflective orange stripes at waist, chest, and wrists.

This custom-made hat band may have been a prototype made in 1928, two years before an official NPS hatband was approved. It ended up in the possession of Horace M. Albright but no photos of him wearing the hatband have been found to date.

Tan leather hat band decorated with tree branches, pinecones, a bison, and a cougar with the letters NPS.

Pillbox hats were worn as part of the women’s uniform beginning in 1961. Initially the hats had a USNPS patch on the front, but it was replaced by the NPS arrowhead patch in 1962.

Green wool pillbox hat with an NPS arrowhead patch on the front and one hatpin stuck in the top.

The NPS was responsible for managing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) projects in national and state parks. This CCC cap, like other side caps, it can be folded flat when not being worn.

Green wool overseas garrison cap with a round green and yellow CCC patch.

Park rangers wear a variety of safety gear that may not look like the “ranger uniform” which are necessary for the job. Ranger Rob Danno wore this wetsuit and other gear for swift water rescues.

Tan and orange wet suit with an orange life jacket over the top. Front of lifejacket has sewn gold National Park Ranger badge, swift water rescue technician, and NASAR patches and a gold name tag on vest reads “ROBERT DANNO”. Vest also has an emergency light, knife, and yellow bag containing rope.

Remington M8 rifle used at Organ Pipe National Monument (now national park) in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Long steel rifle with a wooden stock and forestock.

Harrington & Richardson “Handy Gun.” Single-shot, smooth-bore, breech- loading handgun with an 8-inch barrel. Used at Pinnacles National Monument.

Short steel pistol with oak stock and forestock.

Inflatable air mattress made by the Atlantic-Pacific Manufacturing Corporation. This was part of Stephen T. Mather’s camping gear and was used during the “Mather Mountain Party” in 1915 and other trips to national parks. He used a bike pump to inflate it.

Tan, fabric, and rubber inflatable mattress.

This wool blanket was part of Stephen T. Mather’s camping gear and was used during the “Mather Mountain Party” in 1915 and other trips to national parks.

Gray wool blanket with a blue stripe.

This pillow was part of Stephen T. Mather’s camping gear and was used during the “Mather Mountain Party” in 1915 and other trips to national parks.

Orange and white striped pillow.

This was an experimental uniform for women naturalists. A white blouse became an option during warm weather. Note that women were still not wearing ranger flat hats in the late 1950s but rather the overseas cap popular during World War II. This uniform was worn by seasonal ranger- naturalist Bera Arnn in Washington, DC in 1958 and 1959.

Green wool skirt, long-sleeved gray shirt, and a green, wool overseas cap.

A new women’s uniform was designed in 1961. Sometimes referred to as the first “stewardess uniform,” it actually has more in common with the women’s uniform developed in 1943 than the 1962 women’s uniform that followed it (and which was modelled on stewardess uniforms). More research is needed but this uniform was quickly replaced and, as a result, few survive. This is the only example in the NPS History Collection. The skirt and jacket were worn by seasonal ranger- naturalist Susanne Twight at Crater Lake National Park in 1961 and 1962.

Green wool skirt and jacket with a pillbox hat with a USNPS patch on the front.

The 1970 uniform included variety even if it didn’t have the “ranger look” at all. This double-knit polyester uniform consists of culottes (called “skorts” today) and a tunic. In cool weather, it could be worn with the tan cardigan jacket and tan leather boots instead of shoes. White shoes or boots were never authorized in the uniform standard for this uniform. Learn more here

Tan culottes and a tunic with white collar and sleeve trim, an offset front zipper, and an NPS arrowhead patch. Orange and white scarf with NPS arrowhead motif and orange polka dots is nearby in the drawer.

Another option was this zip-up smock designed for seasonal employees, and cooperating association employees. Believe it or not, this was also to serve as a maternity uniform, if approved by the superintendent.

Tan short-sleeved dress with white collar, sleeve, and pocket trim, a zipper down the full length of the front, and an NPS arrowhead patch. Optional white polyester belt is also shown.

This smock was designed for cleaners and other “domesticians.” We guess that the stripes make it harder to see dirt than on the plain tan one. It was also a seersucker fabric rather than double-knit polyester which would have made it cooler for physical work. This one was worn by Ruth Anne Heriot for curatorial work at Lincoln Home National Historic Site in 1972.

Tan, orange, and white striped short-sleeved work smock with an NPS arrowhead patch and a full-length zipper down the front.

This uniform is a precursor to the volunteer vest. It was designed to be worn over street clothes by women volunteers if they had public contact duties.

Sleeveless orange apron with white neck and pocket trim and NPS arrowhead.

The one advantage of the 1970 uniform is that it offered women pants for the first time since the 1920s. They could be worn with the tunic, books, scarf, and an insulated parka to create a winter uniform. However, some women reported that the pants offered little protection against the cold, and they resorted to wearing their own trousers instead.

Tan polyester slacks and jacket with NPS arrowhead patch and gold nametag reading “Marion J. Durham.”

The 1974 uniform included a short-sleeved tunic designed to be worn with green slacks to form the “basic pant-suit” uniform. This was offered as an alternative to the dress.

Dark green, polyester, zip-up short-sleeved shirt with patch pockets and an NPS arrowhead patch outlined in white on the left breast.

Cardigan Jacket, ca. 1974-1977

This lightweight jacket could be worn with the dress or the “basic pant-suit” uniform.

Dark-green, long-sleeved jacket with two large patch pockets, four fabric-covered buttons, and the NPS arrowhead patch outlined in white.

This uniform was worn by Fran P. Mainella. She was the 16th NPS director, and the first woman appointed to the position—85 years after the NPS was established.

Green uniform skirt and jacket with a white blouse and green crosstie. Gold ranger badge on left breast, gold USNPS collar ornaments on the lapels, and a gold nametag that reads “FRAN P. MAINELLA” are also part of the uniform.

Mary Bomar followed Fran P. Mainella, becoming the 17th NPS director and the second (and only other) woman director. Bomar died in 2022. You can read more about her career here national-park-service-announces-death-of-former-director-mary-bomar.htm

Green uniform skirt and jacket with a white blouse and green crosstie. Gold ranger badge on left breast, gold USNPS collar ornaments on the lapels, and a gold nametag that reads “MARY A. BOMAR” are also part of the uniform.

This uniform was worn by Captain Valerie Fernandes. In 1980 she became one of two women to graduate from the horse mounted patrol unit. She was promoted to sergeant in 1983 and became the first woman to achieve the rank of lieutenant in 1985. She was promoted to captain in 1992. Learn more about her career here

Black pants with a light blue stripe down the side, white collared shirt, and a black coat with gold buttons and captain’s bars on the epaulettes. A US Park Police patch on the left shoulder. Leather belt and shoulder gun holder and a light blue braid over the right shoulder. Name tag reads “VALERIE FERNANDES.” Gold presidential inaugural badge is nearby in the drawer.

The 1940 fatigue uniform was designed for fieldwork. All pockets on the trousers have zippers so things aren’t lost in the backcountry. The stirrups on the pants prevented them from riding up when putting on boots. There is even a clever “backpack” to the jacket; the fabric on the back is doubled and has a zipper on each side, creating a large pocket. The NPS arrowhead patch added c. 1952.

Green waist-length collared jacket with two breast pockets and a zipper down the front. NPS arrowhead patch on left shoulder. Worn with green trousers with black elastic stirrups.

This datalogger records the temperature and relative humidity in the storage room, allowing staff to monitor the environment the objects are stored in for optimal preservation.

Gray rectangular plastic device with a LCD display window.

The US Park Police traces its history back to 1791 but it didn’t become a unit of the NPS until 1933. These hat and breast badges identified the wearer as a US Park Police officer. Learn more about the early history of the US Park Police here subjects/uspp/history.htm

Open drawer displaying trays containing 12 silver badges in two sizes, and brass or copper sergeant and corporal badges. The badges are stamped with eagles and are marked “SPECIAL POLICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, NATIONAL PARK SERVICE”

The DOI first issued badges to park rangers in 1898. This badge was issued in 1906. Note that it says “National Park Service” a decade before the NPS was created. See more badges at our online exhibit.

Round, nickel-plated badge with a large eagle in the center and “National Park Service” and “Department of the Interior” around the edges.

Although not used during the Stoneman Meadow riots at Yosemite National Park in July 1970, this helmet became part of the park’s law enforcement equipment soon thereafter. Other parks also had riot gear and training following the Yosemite riots.

Green and white helmet with a gold strip and an NPS arrowhead sticker above the brim and a clear plastic visor.

In some parks, rangers conduct patrols on bicycles. Bikes can go places cars cannot, are environmentally friendly, and allow rangers to be more approachable than during cruiser patrols. This helmet was as part of the bike patrol uniform (which includes bike shorts) worn by Ranger Rob Danno.

Commercial white and black bike helmet with a tan NPS arrowhead sticker on the back.

This Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) officer’s cap was worn by John P. Overman, Jr.

Green wool cap with a brown bill and a gold CCC emblem on the front.

A sun helmet was introduced in 1940 as part of a hot weather uniform. The 1956 uniform standard described the approved helmet as green in color. This tan one was worn by Lee Wallace at Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park in 1957.

Tan pith helmet with a black stripe on the visor and a silver sequoia on the front.

This hat was part of the women’s 1970 basic uniform. Decried by many women as a “junior ranger hat” or “ranger lite” hat, it didn’t compare to the ranger flat hat worn by men. Women were not supposed to wear the men’s hat, but many did anyway.

Tan felt wide-brimmed hat with a ribbon hatband and chinstrap.

This soft hat was designed as part of the 1970 women’s uniform but never went into production. Given the reaction against the women’s flat hat that was approved, it’s probably just as well this one didn’t make it past the drawing board.

Soft tan wool hat with brim.

This helmet was worn during ranger snow patrols at Yellowstone National Park.

Bright yellow helmet with clear face shield and NPS arrowhead sticker on the side.

This hardhat was worn by John J. Reynolds, whose father and brother Robert (and later son Mike) also worked for the NPS. Starting his career in the early 1960s, Reynolds became assistant director of design and construction at the Denver Service Center (DSC) in 1988. In 1993, he was appointed NPS deputy director.

White plastic hard hat with an NPS arrowhead sticker on the front. Other stickers read “REYNOLDS” and “DENVER SERVICE CENTER” printed in white.

White helmets were worn by the fire chief, yellow by the other firefighters. This one was worn by ranger Rob Danno at Bryce Canyon National Park where the structural fire brigade responded to numerous fires, including two at Bryce Canyon Lodge.

White plastic hard hat with clear visor and a neon yellow flashlight clipped on the side.

This ski cap was part of the winter patrol uniform. It belonged to Daniel B. Beard.

Green wool baseball-style cap with adjustable ear flaps and U.S.N.P.S embroidered on the front with yellow thread.

Soft, broad-brimmed hats like these have been part of military uniforms worn in tropical climates for decades. Tried and true, it’s not surprising that the NPS chose this style over the straw flat hat for its hot weather uniform.

Tan, soft-brimmed cotton sun hat with chin strap and a dark brown hat fabric hat band embroidered with USNPS in yellow thread.

Accented by Mouton fur (sheepskin processed to look like beaver or seal skin), this hat is part of the cold weather uniform. Some employees complain, however, that it doesn’t keep their heads warm.

Green nylon hat with brown Mouton fur fold-down ear flaps.

This 1932 uninform was worn by Charles E. Peterson who worked for the NPS from 1929 to 1962 This uniform is precisely dated by the manufacturer’s label that records “Made Expressly for Mr. Chas. E. Peterson, 9/30/32”. Peterson was an architectural historian, landscape architect, preservationist, and planner. He developed the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in 1933. In 1983 the Charles E. Peterson Prize was established to “increase awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of historic buildings, structures, and cultural landscapes throughout the United States while adding to the permanent HABS/HAER/HALS Collection of measured drawings at the Library of Congress.” It continues to be awarded annually today. Peterson died in 2004, aged 97.

Green wool breeches and coat with four NPS buttons and one gold USNPS collar ornament.

This uniform was worn by Kenneth R. Krabbenhoft who joined the CCC in 1933 and became a supply sergeant in 1937, working in Iowa and Arkansas camps. Like many “CCC boys,” Krabbenhoft went on to have a long career with the NPS after World War II.

Tan, cotton breeches, blue denim jacket, and a green wool hat with a yellow and green CCC patch.

The jacket on the right was made by Fechheimer Brothers at Robert M. Utley’s request in 1947. It was based on the World War II Eisenhower or “Ike” jacket. Note the notched collar, shoulder epaulettes, buttons instead of a zipper, lack of buttons on the pockets, and the button tab at the waist. Utley wore this jacket each summer as a seasonal historical aide at Custer Battlefield National Monument (now Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument) from 1947 to 1952. The arrowhead patch was added in 1952. The badge (1930-1946) was changed the year that Utley started but a shortage of new badges wasn’t uncommon. Utley served as NPS chief historian from 1964 to 1980.

The jacket on the right is the uniform fatigue jacket. Note the patch with three stars at the cuff. Prior to 1956, the service stars (denoting years in the NPS) were sewn directly onto the sleeve.

Service stars were replaced by Department of the Interior length of service pins in 1961. It was made on December 20, 1949, for Sallie Pierce Brewer. She worked in a variety of Southwestern national parks and monuments from the 1943 until her retirement in 1967. Many of her early positions were temporary. She worked as a ranger at park entrance stations, led tours, and acted as a fire dispatcher in case of wildfires but she is best known for her contributions to Southwest archeology. Learn more about her career here people/sallie-pierce-brewer-van-valkenburg-harris.htm

Two waist-length green jackets. The one on the left has notched lapels, buttons down the front, and has an NPS arrowhead patch, silver ranger badge, and gold USNPS collar ornaments. The one on the right has a front zipper, a NPS arrowhead patch on the left shoulder, and a patch with three white stars on the right cuff.

This optional “urban uniform” was issued in March 1972, in advance of the 1972 centennial of Yellowstone National Park. It was primarily worn by rangers working in urban parks around Washington, D.C.

Tan suit coat, green suit coat with an arrowhead patch on the left breast. Yellow shirt with green and brown striped tie and brown trousers.

This US Park Police uniform was worn by Lieutenant G. William Davis prior to 2008. Davis was promoted to captain before he retired in 2012.

White, collared long-sleeve shirt with the US Park Police patch on the left arm, black tie with gold tie tack, and black trousers with a blue strip down them. Drawer also has handcuffs with key, courtesy tag book, and police handheld radio.

Foam and plastic protective gear worn by US Park Police officers during demonstrations. This type of armor protects from blunt trauma but doesn’t protect from stabbing or ballistics.

Black foam and plastic body, arm, and leg pads. White patch with word POLICE on the chest pad.

This uniform was worn by Robert Stanton, 15th NPS director. He was also the first African American director. Learn more about his career here

Green uniform jacket with a gray collared shirt, gold shield-shaped badge, and gold name bar reading “Robert Stanton” and a green necktie with a gold arrowhead tie tack.

Women’s green polyester puletasi (skirt and blouse), a two-piece dress worn by Samoan, Tongan, and Fijian women and girls. The park is believed to be the only one with an official uniform based on traditional clothing styles.

Green, matching skirt and blouse with yellow NPS arrowhead and 2016 Centennial decoration and the words “Paka Fa’asao o Amerika Samoa” and its translation “National Park of American Samoa”.

The men’s uniform consists of the standard NPS uniform shirt paired with a lavalava, a skirt-like garment.

Men’s green polyester lavalava skirt with yellow NPS arrowhead and 2016 Centennial decoration, paired with a standard gray NPS short- sleeved uniform shirt with arrowhead patch on the left sleeve.

Three NPS shirts. 1) Green, yellow, and purple NPS bike shirt with a large bison on the front and NPS arrowhead on the sleeve. 2) Gray t- shirt with “National Park Service” in red letters and large rainbow “PRIDE” below. The first NPS-sanctioned Pride t-shirt was created by employees to wear in the Seattle Pride Parade in 2017. This is a redesigned version created in 2020. 3) Black t-shirt with a white outline of an arrowhead, parodying the NPS arrowhead. Burned Created by some NPS employees as a statement following the Yellowstone fires in 1988.

Three shirts laid out in a drawer. Green, yellow, purple, and white bike shirt with a bison on the front and USNPS letters. Folded gray t- shirt reading “National Park Service Pride.” Folded black t-shirt with an NPS arrowhead with burned trees and a bison skeleton inside the arrowhead with the words “National Parch Service” and “Department of the Inferno.”

Swimsuits probably don’t spring to mind when thinking about the NPS uniform, but many lakeshores, seashores, and recreational areas have lifeguards. In other parks, diving may be part of resource management duties and swimsuits are needed. The 1970s bright orange women’s suit seen here is the earliest in the collection. It would have been worn with a bright orange windbreaker and baseball cap.

Swimming uniforms laid out in a drawer. Red men’s lifeguard diving trunks, swim trunks, and the red lifeguard windbreaker from the 1990s. A bright orange one-piece women’s bathing suit with the large arrowhead-shaped lifeguard patch sewn on the hip from the 1970s. A lifeguard whistle is also in the drawer.

Leon Schlesinger, creator of Loony Tunes, drew the comic strip for the poster published by the Government Printing Office. The poster represents NPS’ attempt to change both its management practices and visitor behaviors after decades of feeding bears in national parks for entertainment.

Printed four pane comic strip featuring a bear standing beside a tree with a sign “Danger Do Not Feed the Bears.” A man approaches, reads the sign, and offers the bear a sandwich. The bear pounds him on the head and points to the sign. The title below is “Can’t You Read!”

The patriotic themes of these posters are obvious. During World War II, the NPS was under pressure from extraction industries (such as logging) to support the war effort. NPS Director Newton B. Drury resisted these efforts and instead positioned the parks as sources of rest and recovery for military personnel, noting that our national parks were “worth fighting for.”

Two NPS fire prevention posters with patriotic World War II themes. The “Don’t Let him Come Home to This” poster depicts a soldier standing in a burned out landscape against an orange sky, above the message “Prevent Forest Fires!” The second poster is partly obscured by the first but depicts a park ranger in uniform standing in front of the letter “V” (suggesting the V for Victory slogan) with a green landscape behind him and “Worth Fighting For” above. A burned-out landscape can be seen outside the “V.”

A collection of photographs mounted on cards that supported and documented the work of the NPS Western Museum Laboratory in Berkeley, California from 1937 to 1968. The lab created exhibits, dioramas, posters, and other materials for NPS sites. To do its work, it amassed a large collection of reference images documenting the cultural and natural history of parks throughout the West.

A large number of shallow tan boxes stacked on a tan shelving unit. One box lid is ajar.

The colder temperature (45°F) in this room provides better long-term preservation for color images, acetate-based films, and other media.

View of an orange door that leads into another room. Sign reads “122B Cold Storage” and had a hazard label on it.

These boxes contain thousands of images that document wildlife, habitats, and management practices in national parks from the 1920s to the early 1950s. The collection began with George M. Wright, Joseph S. Dixon, and Ben Thompson and the photos they took during their wildlife surveys beginning in 1929. In 1934 the NPS Wild Life Division, with Wright as chief, was formally established to direct all activities concerning the conservation and management of wildlife. (The spelling was changed to the Wildlife Division on July 30, 1934). The Wildlife Division conducted surveys of parks throughout the 1930s. Images continued to be added into the early 1950s.

Square blue boxes stacked on tan shelves. One box lid is ajar.

Unbleached muslin garment bags protect NPS uniforms from dust, light, and snagging on each other when they are removed for study or exhibit. This open storage rack maximizes space for uniforms made from polyester and other fibers that are less susceptible to pest damage. This leaves the space in the sealed cabinets for woolen items that need more protection from insects.

Rack of clothes hanging in garment bags at two levels.

This saddle was used by park rangers at Petersburg National Battlefield from ca. 1940 to the 1960s. It’s marked for the Jeffersonville Quartermaster in Indiana. It’s likely that it was acquired by the NPS as military surplus equipment after a new model was adopted by the US Army in 1938.

Brown leather saddle resting on a saddle tree.

Saddle pad used by US Park Police horse mounted patrol officers during parades and other public events.

Iridescent white vinyl saddle pad with blue trim and “U.S. Park Police” added in large blue letters on a saddle tree above other saddles.

Last updated: September 14, 2023