The NPS History Collection includes NPS uniforms and accessories from the 1920s through today. It also includes uniforms from the United States Park Police, which functions as a unit of the NPS with jurisdiction in all federal parks.
NPS Men’s Uniforms
The earliest men's unifoms in the collection date from the 1920s. With the exception of elimination of the riding breeches and boots in 1947, most changes to the men's dress uniform have been undramatic. Details have changed but the uniform has always retained the "ranger look".
NPS Women’s Uniforms
Although the first female ranger was hired in 1918, the first official women's uniform standard was issued in 1947. Women's uniforms changed many times - and often in very dramatic ways - from the 1940s to the 1970s. Today, women wear equivalent uniforms to those of the men.
Ranger badges, collar insignia, tie tacks, and name bars complete the official uniform. The collection also includes items such as the arrowhead lapel pin issued to women in the 1960s in lieu of a badge. Hat bands, belts, and other ornamentation also complete the "ranger look".
Special jobs often call for special uniforms and protective gear. Examples include law enforcement, firefighting, search and rescue, lifeguards, and dive operations. Whether it's a 1940s sun hat for use in Death Valley, lifeguard swimsuits, bike police uniforms or law enforcement's bullet-proof vests, the uniform collection reflects the broad range of jobs and risks that rangers take to protect the resources and the public.
Explore the History of NPS Uniforms
Harpers Ferry Center has published a series of reports by R. Bryce Workman detailing the history of the NPS uniform.
- National Park Service Uniforms Number 1: Badges and Insignia, 1894-1991
- National Park Service Uniforms Number 3: Ironing out the Wrinkles, 1920-1932
- National Park Service Unifroms Number 4: Breeches, Blouses and Skirts, 1918-1991
- National Park Service Uniforms Number 5: The Developing Years, 1932-1970
National Park Service Uniforms Number 6: They Also Serve, 1920-1991 [unfinished draft]
Learn more about the history of the United States Park Police uniform here.
For Junior Rangers and the Young at Heart
Test your knowledge of the NPS uniforms with this WebRangers activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about the uniforms and some of the myths as we answer frequently asked questions.
Last updated: September 5, 2019