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NPS Associated


Arrowhead Patch
Cap Insignia
Collar Ornaments
Hatband & Straps
Law Enforcement Insignia
Length-of-Service Insignia
Sleeve Brassards
Tie Ornaments & Pins




ORNAMENTATION: Sleeve Brassards

The 1920 uniform regulations brought forth a plethora of insignia. In addition to the three USNPS collar ornaments, there were 14 patches for the sleeve. These sleeve insignia, or brassards, were to identify the rank and position of the various park employees. They were to be worn between the elbow and the shoulder on the right sleeve. These insignia were embroidered on the same material as their respective uniforms: forest green serge for officers and forestry green wool cloth for rangers. All were to be 2-1/4 inches in diameter with a 1/8-inch "light green" border.

There were three categories of brassards: for directors, officers, and rangers. The basic device for directors was four maple leaves. These were to be embroidered in "golden green," with a star in the center. The only difference between the director and assistant director was that the former had a gold star and the latter a silver one.

The basic device for officers was oak leaves, three for chiefs and two for assistants. The oak leaves were a "shaded golden yellow" with "dark brown" branches. Superintendents and assistant superintendents had "golden brown" acorns with "darker brown" cups and branches, three and two, respectively, as their identifying devices. All other officer identifiers were embroidered in white. These identifiers were:

Clerk:ink bottle and quill (only two oak leaves)
Electrician:lightning bolts
Engineer:triangle and square
Forester:crossed axes (on three colored Sequoia cones)
Stephen T. Mather
Director Stephen T. Mather at the North Entrance (Antler Gate), Yellowstone National Park, 1928. His director's brassard shows very clearly, although the gold star is difficult to distinguish. NPSHPC/HFC#91-11

Lew Davis
Lew Davis, 1925. Davis was a chief ranger at Sequoia National Park. The identification brassard was prescribe to be worn on the right sleeve (LoS insignia on the left), but Davis wore one on each sleeve. NPSHPC/HFC#93-327

Although foresters were considered to be officers, their brassard did not have the customary oak leaves. Instead, for some unexplained reason, the chief ranger patch was utilized with white crossed axes.

The basic device for the rangers was stated as being the Sequoia cone, while in actuality the common denominator was a wreath. Sequoia cones denoted the relative positions of the various permanent rangers. The chief ranger had three, the assistant chief ranger two, and the ranger one. All of these were within a "dark green" wreath. Temporary rangers had only the wreath. Sequoia cones were "light brown" with "dark brown" details and branches. [76]

Mount Rainier National Park Rangers
Mount Rainier National Park Rangers, early 1930's. The appearance of these rangers is what all of the parks were striving for, even though Brown has on no-regulation boots. Their ranger brassards show very clearly.

Left to right: Front row: Carl Tice, Charles Brown, Harold Hall, Herm Barnett Back row: Oscar Sedergren, ?, Preston P. Macy, Frank Greer, Davis NPSHPC/HFC#91-12

Although the 1920 regulations listed supervisors and assistant supervisors as officers, no special sleeve device was assigned to them. The 1922 order for sleeve insignia corrected this oversight and added four more officers to the fold:

Park supervisor:wheel
Chief clerk:inkwell and quill (three oak leaves)
Park physician:PARK PHYSICIAN on bar beneath circle (two oak leaves)
Park Naturalist:PARK NATURALIST on bar beneath circle (two oak leaves)
Chief Buffalo Keeper:CHIEF BUFFALO KEEPER on bar beneath circle (brassard to be same as chief ranger)

GAME WARDEN could also be added in white beneath the circle on any brassard.

John W. Emmert
John W. Emmert, chief electrician, Yosemite National Park, 1922. Emmerts chief electrician brassard can be seen on his sleeve. The lightening bolts can readily be seen, but the oak leaves are hard to detect. NPSHPC-Jimmy Lloyd photo HFC#87-35

Gabriel Sovulewski
Gabriel Sovulewski, c.1920's. Sovulewski was a supervisor at Yosemite National Park. The white wheel on his brassard can be seen in this image. National Archives/RG 79-SM-28

When the contract for insignia was drawn up in 1924, a new sleeve brassard was added. This insignia, designated "unclassified," was to be used by all uniformed officer personnel not otherwise covered under the regulations. It consisted of two oak leaves on a branch.

Because of resistance to the park naturalist sleeve brassard, no new ones were ordered in 1924. The park naturalists preferred to wear the "unclassified" insignia instead. Since the park physicians also wore the unclassified insignia, it can be assumed that they objected to their insignia as well.

Sequoia National Park Rangers
Ranger force at Sequoia National Park, c.1926. Chief Ranger Milo S. Decker (kneeling in front row, left side) is wearing his LoS stripes on his right cuff. Apparently Lew Davis wasn't the only one that marched to his own drummer at that park. NPSHPC/HFC#93-338

Glacier National Park visitors
Visitors eating lunch on meadows at summit of Logan Pass during highway dedication, July 15, 1933. Ranger is wearing the bear's head ranger naturalist patch on his sleeve. NPSHPC-George A. Grant photo-GLAC#785

A design for a new park naturalist sleeve insignia was submitted by Ansel F. Hall, chief naturalist of the Service, in March 1925. Hall's original design has not been located, but correspondence indicates that it was based on an eagle. It was considered too intricate to be embroidered on the small patch and a simpler design was worked up, following the standard practice of the other sleeve brassards.

Two samples were sent to Hall, both contained the three oak leaves of supervision. but one had a bird on it and the other a bear's head. Correspondence states that due to a lack of brown thread, the supplier worked the bird and bear's head in white, but more than likely, this was just a continuation of the practice of embroidering the identifier in that color. Hall approved the bear, but objected to the shape of the bear's head as being too round. He drew a corrected version and returned it to Washington. Thus, by 1926 the park naturalists had their own distinctive insignia. Park ranger naturalist, a temporary, or seasonal position, fell under the ranger category and as such wore a bear's head, worked in shaded brown, surrounded by foliage.

As the Service diversified. holders of new positions clamored for their own sleeve identification. Because the majority of these positions were not in the ranger field, they considered themselves officers. This situation was rapidly getting out of hand until the 1928 regulations resolved the matter. The matter of the officer badge had been decided in 1921 by declaring that only those officers having a command function were to wear it. Now it was determined that those same individuals were the only ones to be considered officers. All others, with the exception of the rangers, were classified as employees. This resulted in the rangers being elevated to a position within the Service more equitable to their duties and responsibilities in the field. At the same time it was decided to eliminate the sleeve insignia from all but the ranger force.

sleeve patches
These are the two sleeve identification patches that were sent to Ansel Hall as substitutions for the eagle design he submitted. Hall chose the bear's head but thought the shape incorrect. His sketch of the correct design can be seen pinned to the bird patch.

Left: National Archives/RG 79 208.30 Right: NPSHC

At the 1934 superintendents' conference, it was decided that the sleeve brassard on the ranger uniform was an unnecessary expense and served no useful purpose. Even so, they remained in the regulations for several more years. Although there is photographic evidence that the sleeve brassards were worn as late as 1946, patches would not officially return to the National Park Service uniform for many years.

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Last Modified: Fri, Jan 17 2003 07:08:48 am PDT

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