online book
Book Cover
Cover Page




current topic The Developing Years




Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

National Park Service Uniforms
The Developing Years 1932-1970
Number 5

The Developing Years (continued)

sleeve patches
Sleeve patches (know as brassards) to distinguish rank and position were eliminated for all personnel, with the exception of those assigned to the ranger force, in the 1928 Uniform Regulations. The regulations state that the basic emblem for the ranger was to be the Sequoia cone, while in fact the common denominator was the wreath. The Sequoia cone, or in the case of the Ranger-Naturalist, the bear's head, served as the identifier.
NPSHC-Artwork by R. Bryce Workman based on originals in National Archives RG 79-HFC RG Y55

It took the NPS many years to shake the military mentality it had acquired during the Army's attachment to the parks. There are some vestiges of this way of thinking still around to this day. At the 1934 superintendent's conference in Washington, D.C., the uniform was on the docket, as it had been every year, and ways of sprucing it up and making it more attractive were discussed.

Sleeve brassards, or patches had been introduced between 1920 and 1926 to show the status of all uniformed NPS personnel. All of these except for those worn by the rangers were eliminated by the 1928 regulations. At the 1934 conference, it was deemed that those worn by the rangers "served no useful purpose" and it was thought their use should be discontinued.

This recommendation was apparently ignored since the Ranger Insignia remained in the Regulations, at least through 1936. They were gone by the 1940 Regulations, probably removed with the lost 1938 specifications. Even so, they continued to be worn, at least until 1946, as at least one photograph testifies. This was probably because a ranger could wear his uniform as long as it was serviceable. To have removed the patch from the sleeve of a coat several years old would have left an unbleached circle on the sleeve.

Out of these discussions came the decision to experiment with a two-tone uniform similar that worn by the Army. [2] The coat would remain the same "forest green", but the breeches were to be beige, or khaki, similar to the new summer uniform, instead of the Army's "pinks". Only superintendents and custodians were to wear it during this experimental period, but if agreed upon, it would become the Service standard.

There are no known photographs of anyone wearing this uniform, but the idea may have been around for some time. The only image showing what appears to be this combination is of Superintendent William M. Robinson and National Park Service Director Horace M. Albright and his wife Grace, during a visit to Colonial National Monument on May 14, 1933. Although the color can not be ascertained since the image is black and white, it can be seen that the trousers are a different color than that of the coat. Robinson was of the opinion that the rangers at Colonial should be wearing white uniforms instead of the khaki that had been authorized, but he was turned down.

Dir. and Mrs. Albright and Supt. Robinson
Director and Mrs. Horace M. Albright, along with Superintendent William M. Robinson, Jr. at Colonial National Monument (later National Historical Park), May 14, 1933. Robinson is wearing a 2-tone uniform. The matter of a 2-tone uniform was not brought forward until the 1934 Conference and although not noted in the official correspondence, Robinson may have been the instigator of its consideration.

Tomlinson made arrangements with the Fechheimer Brothers Company, uniform manufacturers of Cincinnati, Ohio, to furnish breeches made from a dark tan or beige elastique, of the same weave and quality as the uniform coats, in 18-19 ounce for $9.50. These could also be obtained in 16-ounce material for summer wear at $8.85 a pair. Employees could purchase material if they wished to have their own tailors make the experimental breeches for them.

Apparently all of the superintendents and custodians were urged to participate in the experiment, but it is not clear how many did. After trying the new breeches for a year, or until the next conference, they were to advise the director's office whether they considered the uniform specifications should be amended to include this new material, and if so, any changes they thought necessary. [3]

Supt. Boles and John White
Superintendent, Col. Tom Boles (left) Superintendent, [John R.] White (right) In the Big Room. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, February 1937. Boles is also wearing breeches that are lighter than his coat. It can't be determined from this black and white photograph but it doesn't appear to be the "khaki or beige" color recommended at the 1934 Conference.

Ranger, 1934. This dapper ranger in Class A uniform from Yellowstone National Park rivals even "Dusty" Lewis in impeccability of dress. Even his breeches have creases.

While the majority that responded thought that the light colored breeches with the dark coat made a pleasing appearance, most of those participating considered them too hard to keep clean, thus negating the overall sharp image that they wished to portray. Consequently, the idea was dropped.

Continue Continue


Last Modified: Wed, Feb 7 2001 11:30:00 pm PDT

National Park Service's ParkNet Home