The following pages show how Boy Scout
handbooks have evolved through
the years. Since 1910, the Handbooks have had 14
two line drawings, a color sketch, two photo montages,
and nine paintings. Only three covers were not full
color (Original, 1st, and early 8th Editions).
â€” Was modified from Baden-Powell, line drawing
of a Scout holding a US flag on a staff (taken
from Baden-Powells Scouting for Boys, with the
original British flag replaced with a US flag).
This edition was written hastily by Ernest Thompson
Seton. When Seton wrote it he incorporated part
of Baden-Powells handbook and his own principles
of the Woodcraft Indians.
First Edition 1911
- The Scout in front of a campsite waving his
campaign hat, was intended to to beckon to the
Second Edition 1914 - It took
the BSA about seven years to get the image on
the cover correct. The artist was J. C. Leyendecker
made several mistakes including putting the scout's
badges on the wrong side, leaving the hanging
knot off the Scout emblem, having the Scout signaling
by semaphore using Morse flags, and not having
the Scout's arms in a position that represents
any semaphore letter. In 1916, the image was
180 degrees, which took care of the badges, the
semaphore letter was now "L", and the
knot was added to the emblem. Finally, in 1921,
the flags were corrected. This 1921 printing
unusual in that it used a different font for
title, which was not repeated.
Third Edition 1927
- This cover featured the profile of a Scout in
campaign hat and red neckerchief against a blue
background containing the profiles of American
heroes (Lincoln, Washington, Ben Franklin, Teddy
Roosevelt, a frontiersman, an Indian, and Charles
Lindbergh, who had just completed his famous flight).
Lindbergh replaced a conquistador between the
initial sketching and final painting.
Fourth Edition 1940 - "The
Scouting Trail," featuring a Cub Scout,
Scout with pack (and red neckerchief), and Sea
Scout against a green background. This cover
painted by Norman Rockwell. He originally painted
it for the Boy Scout Calendar in 1939.
Fifth Edition 1948 - The first
two printings of this edition features a painting
of a patrol of Scouts hiking down a wooded trail,
wearing campaign hats and red neckerchiefs. This
painting is considered flat and lacks the detail
and depth of other Handbook covers.
Fifth Edition 1949
- The remaining ten printings displayed two Scouts
(red neckerchiefs) and an Explorer, all in overseas
caps, sitting around a campfire with the smoke
forming an Indian behind them. (The cover picture
was changed because of the BSA's switch from campaign
hats to overseas caps. Similar changes were made
to the cover and inside illustrations of the Handbook
for Scoutmasters. This occurred even though the
campaign hat remained optional. The change may
also have been motivated in part by complaints
about the first cover.)
- The Scout is wearing leggings because during
the 1950s and 1960s, the BSA promoted leggings
through their artwork, though these were seldom
worn by Scouts outside of the handbooks and
An interesting error, never detected in seven
printings, is the Scout's beltâ€”which is
Due to lack of time, Rockwell painted only the
figure itself, someone else filled in the background
scene of Scouts hiking and in camp. This is
only Rockwell painting specifically done as a
Seventh Edition 1965 - The background
is a camp scene very similar to that of the 6th
Eighth Edition 1972
- The first three printings had a two-tone green
cover just like the Scoutmaster Handbook, Patrol
and Troop Leadership book, Leadership Corps book,
Troop Committee Guidebook, and other manuals of
this era. The Scout Handbook has a color sketch
in the upper right corner of four Scouts in blue
neckerchiefs and red berets looking through a
telescope at the moon. This was the first and
only Scout Handbook not to have a complete cover
picture. The artist is unknown.
Eighth Edition 1976 - This
also appears inside the 9th Edition. The painting
on the cover was done by Joseph Csatari painting,called "All
Out for Scouting."
Ninth Edition 1979 - The scene
on the cover depicts a scene at Schiff Scout Reservation
(former BSA National Training Center in New Jersey).
The 9th Edition will probably be the last Handbook
to have a Norman Rockwell cover, because Rockwell
painted his last Scout picture before the BSA
redesigned the Scout uniform in 1981.
Tenth Edition 1990 - This edition
had a glossy cover with three color action photographs.
The photographs were to get scouts excited about
some of the adventures scouts has to offer.
Eleventh Edition 1998 - This is
the newest edition. This edition was intended
to bring scouting into the 21st century.