On-line Book
Book Cover
Cover Page






Arrowhead patch



Cap insignia

Collar ornaments


Hatband & straps


Service insignia

Sleeve brassards

Tie ornaments & pins





National Park Service Uniforms
Badges and Insignia 1894-1991
Number 1


There is some question as to just how early the 1905 badge came into use. One school of thought is that it came in with the departmental separation of the park and forest personnel in 1905, but there is no corroborating evidence for this. It is possible that the 1905 badge may postdate that year. Correspondence shows that it certainly was in use by 1909. The first "National Park Service" buttons, obtained in 1912, were made utilizing its design. [3] The example in the NPS collection at Harpers Ferry Center Archives is either tin or nickel plated, two inches in diameter, with a variation of the Interior Department's eagle seal used until 1913 (actually a cross between Interior's eagle and the Army breastplate eagle of Civil War vintage). There is a rope edge around the badge, with NATIONAL PARK SERVICE around the top inside the rope edge, and DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR around the bottom. On the back is a pin, without safety catch, for fastening the badge. Yellowstone has another example of this badge in its collection.


Worn by most rangers, except Yellowstone National Park

2-inch diameter, sterling silver or nickel-plated

Gold badge made for Director Stephen T. Mather

It is not known where these badges were made, but there were several sterling examples and at least one gold example made at Tiffany & Company, New York. The gold one was Stephen T. Mather's, while Horace M. Albright and Jesse Nusbaum each received one of the sterling ones. These badges were all cast instead of the usual stamping. It is not known how many sterling badges were produced. Albright's was stolen from his coat, but Jesse Nusbaum carried his around in his pocket for many years afterward. [4]

The 1905 badges were to be turned in to Park Service headquarters upon receipt of the new 1920 badges. But because the demand for the new badges was greater than the quantity initially produced, the parks were authorized to retain some of the old badges for their temporary rangers. [5] There is a photograph taken at Yosemite in 1926 of six nature guides wearing these badges.

Apparently there was another badge issued in some of the parks around 1917 or 1918. There is evidence that Yosemite and Yellowstone received them, but whether or not any of the other parks did is not known. There are photographs showing rangers in Yosemite wearing a small badge approximately 1-1/4 inches in diameter, about the size of the 1921 superintendent's badge. Replying to the uniform committee's questionnaire of December 2, 1922, Chief Ranger Sam T. Woodring, at Yellowstone, answered question 5b by saying: "The present badge is a great deal larger than necessary. I believe that the small round badge issued prior to the one now used should be re-adopted." [6] It has been suggested that this was the coined center of the 1920 badge and that it was applied to a shield to make the 1920 park ranger badge. This is highly speculative, and it is inconceivable that there would not be some reference in the official correspondence to the fact that the new director's and superintendent's badges were the same as the old ranger badges.


Circular, approx. 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 inches in diameter

Documentation incomplete

One possible answer may lie in a badge that was issued by the Interior Department in 1919. That year the department adopted a design for a new field service badge that was available for the use of all its bureaus. This design consisted of an adaptation of the departmental seal, with US over the buffalo and a blank space under the feet of the animal in which the name of the particular field service could be inserted. [7] If this is the case, then the 1917 date on the photograph is wrong. There are also two photographs from Yellowstone that fit this category. One, taken in 1919, shows a group of rangers on motorcycles. While not uniformed, Eivind Scoyen's small badge can be seen protruding below his pocket flap.

The second photograph is of E. Burket, taken in 1922. At first glance this image would appear to have been taken prior to 1918. He is wearing a uniform with a military cut which was not to be purchased after 1918. Ranger Burket is also wearing a small round badge. The answer is quite simple. Burket was hired as a temporary ranger in 1921. Rangers had to pay their own expenses and due to their low salary, temporary rangers, for the most part, did not want to spend money for a uniform that they might only be wearing for one summer. Consequently, they were allowed to wear whatever they wished. Many purchased surplus Army uniforms to wear. Superintendent Horace M. Albright changed this at Yellowstone in 1922 by requiring the purchase of a regulation uniform as a condition of employment. Apparently, with the issuance of the 1920 badges, the 1905 badges were not redistributed to the parks to cover the shortage. Instead, the parks retained the badges previously used. In the case of Yellowstone and Yosemite, this was the small round badge.

Back Back

Continue Continue


Last Modified: Thurs, Jul 28 2000 07:08:48 am PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home