Marguerite Lindsley: the First Permanent Female Ranger

July 15, 2016 Posted by: Hailey Galper, 2016 Archives Intern

In 1921, Marguerite Lindsley was one of three women to be appointed as season Park Rangers by Superintendent Horace Albright. In 1925, she became the first permanent female Park Ranger. Lindsley was the perfect choice for this position. Not only did she hold a degree in bacteriology, she also had an immense passion for Yellowstone and enjoyed teaching the public about the wonders to be found here. Marguerite’s love for Yellowstone was no doubt born from her childhood here. Her father, Chester Lindsley worked as a civilian clerk for the Army when she was child, and the family lived in Mammoth. Her father also served as the interim Superintendent during the transition from the Army to the National Park Service. She was to visitors, a true native of Yellowstone, someone who lived and breathed the park. Qualified and with a sincere love of the park, Lindsley served as a naturalist, teaching visitors and leading tours, as well as writing about and drawing the plants in the park.  She helped run a government information center and a small museum in Mammoth as well.

Being a female Ranger had its own difficulties in the 1920s. Not only did Lindsley and the other female Ranger’s face opposition from high-ranking officials in the Department of Interior who did not believe women fit for employment as park rangers, they also faced frustrations born from an agency that was ill-prepared to hire women. For example, when Lindsley was hired in 1921 there was no Ranger uniform for women.  Lindsley chose to design her own uniform. A journalist for the Christian Science Monitor described Lindsley and her uniform:

 “Picture a tall, clear eyed, boyish-bobbed, slender young woman, trim in her well-fitting, olive-green uniform with its shining silver badge denoting that she is a member of the Department of Interior, National Park service, immaculate in her high-necked white blouse and black tie, ranger-like in her highly polished leather boots, it is no wonder that at first she was indistinguishable from the other 34 rangers.”

Lindsley’s uniform worked. Other female rangers would copy and adapt her uniform to fit their specific jobs and assignments.

            Marguerite Lindsley’s position as park ranger earned her some interesting nicknames like, “Geyser Peg” and “Paint Pot Peg.” On a three-week horseback park tour, she was leading a group of visitors through a thermal area when she fell through the crust into boiling mud. Although she suffered burns on her leg up to her knee, she still took the opportunity to teach the visitors about the dangers of thermal features. While we’re unsure of the date of this trip, the fact that she was asked to help lead it suggests that she had already been appointed a permanent park ranger, placing the trip somewhere between 1925 and 1928.

In 1928, Marguerite Lindsley married another Ranger and returned to seasonal Ranger employment. Although she no longer worked as a Ranger during the winter, she and her husband lived in the park all year round and she routinely joined her husband on ski patrols and back country trips.

Marguerite Photo: Marguerite "Peg" Lindsley, circa 1923. YELL 42781, Yellowstone National Park Archives

Quote from “Women in Wonderland: Lives, Legends, and Legacies of Yellowstone National Park” by Elizabeth A. Watry 

Last updated: July 15, 2016

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