Boys' Historic Uniforms: The 1910s


Figure 1.--Scout troops around the world, like these French Scouts, began adopting national styles to their Scout uniforms.

The overiding event iduring the 1910s was World War I (1914-18). In the 1910s the Scouting movement became the world's preminent youth group around the world. Founded by Lord Baden Powell in 1906, by the 1910s there were Scouts operating in virtually every European country and North America. With the surge of patriotism surrounding the War effort, support and membership grew in most countries. World War I was the first major war since the founding of youth groups and the first opportunity for these groups to organize young people on the home front to support the war effort. Most countries had youth groups with uniform styled like the military. TheAmeriucan cout uniform was virtually a replica of the U.S. Army uniform.

The Scouting Movement

The fledgling Scout movement grew rapidly in the early 1910s spreading to several new countries. Scouting soon was eclipsing other boys' organizations such as the Boys' Brigade in Britain and the Wood Craft Indians in America. To a large extent this surprised Lord Baden Powell and other British Scout leaders. They had conceived Scouting as a national movement. To their credit they embraced the international character of the movement they had founded.The spread of Scouting beyond national borders enabled it to develop its internationalist character that is now one of its great strngths. The international character of the movement, however, was impairred by the disaster of World War I (1914-18).

Baden Powell's Scout movement continued to grow in the 1910s. Baden Powell's original idea was to provide a system of attractive activities which could be used in any Boys' Brigade, Club, or other boys' organisation. This modest intention was quickly shattered by facts. The number of boys doing Boy Scouting on their own grew so rapidly that some kind of organisation was obviously necessary. So with great daring, a small office was opened and a stock of twelve Scout hats was laid in, with a similarly cautious amount of other equipment. (In 1938, some 30,000 hats were sold in the Scout Shop.) Numbers, however, soon overwhelmed all such timid arrangements. By 1910 there were over 100,000 Boy Scouts in the United Kingdom alone. Baden Powell found it necessary to give up all idea of a further army career in order to take in hand the organisation and development of this rapidly growing Movement.

National Scouting Trends

The Scouting movement was still very new in the 1910s, even in Britain. he american Scouting movement was only founded in 1909. And in ost other countries it was only founded in the 1910s. The expanding international character of the Scout movement was arrested by the outbreak of World War I in Europe during 1914. Thecoying movement adopred a very stiol character. Scouts in each every country played a variety of non-combatent roles. WoeldWar I ws the frst war in which youth groups, primarilu he scouts played a role. It was a nonconbaant role,but they were active on the himefront. That role was especially imprtant in Aerica, Britain, and France


Figure 2.--I do not have details on this photograph, but believe it pictures British Scouts in the 1910s.

British Scouting

Baden-Powell in 1912 married Olave Soames, who played a key role in founding the Girl Guides. The problem of younger boys desiring to partiipate in Scouting was resolved in 1916 when the British Scout Association approved a new program--Wolf Cubs based on Kiplings The Jungle Book. Wolf Cubs were soon adopted by Scout Associations all over the world, except in America where Cubs were not introduced until the 1930. British Scouts held the first Wood Badge course held at Gilwell Park near London, England in 1919.

British Girl Guides

In organizing girls organizations, the focus was on the lower classes in the late-19th and early 20th century was primarily a means of attaining the approval of the 'Establishment'. The emphasis was on improving children's physique so that they would become better citizens, in the case of girls, mothers when grown up. Members of the middle and upper classes were encouraged to join in order that they would use their 'inherent' leadership skills to improve the lot of the lower classes. You may find, as with the Guides and Scouts, that the earliest middle-class members were drawn from the military and governmental elite. Richard A. Voeltz's 1992 article, "The antidote to "khaki fever"? The expansion of the British Girl Guides during the First World War," Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 27 (October 1992), pp. 627-638, provides a lot of useful information. Essentially, Voeltz argues that the Guides gained the approval of the middle-class during World War I because of that organisation's devoted war-work. With that approval, they were able to shift the emphasis in their programming from womanly activities (eg. mothercraft training) to more adventurous outdoor activities. Before the War there was considerable opposition to outdoor vigorous activities for girls and the Guides had restricted suh activties. The Guides became more popular after the First World War, and an increasing middle-class membership becomes evident. The new popularity enabled them to significantly alter the program and include more Scout-oriented outdoor activities for the girls.


Figure 3.--This photograph was taken of some american Scots returning from a camping trip in 1919. This tripmdid not give much attetion to the uniform. Most boys wear knickers. Some went camping in Norfolk suits worn with ties!

American Scouting

William D. Boyce, after his experience with the "unknown" London Scout, incorporated the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in 1910. Immediately after its incorporation, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was assisted by officers of the YMCA in organizing a task force to help community organizations start and maintain a high-quality Scouting program. Those efforts climaxed in the organization of the nation's first Scout camp at Lake George, New York, directed by Ernest Thompson Seton. Beard, who had established another youth group, the Sons of Daniel Boone (which he later merged with the BSA), provided assistance. Also on hand for this historic event was James E. West, a lawyer and an advocate of children's rights, who later would become the first professional Chief Scout Executive of the Boy Scouts of America. Seton became the first volunteer national Chief Scout, and Beard, the first national Scout Commissioner. The American Boy Scouts held their camp held at Silver Bay, Lake George, N.Y. in 1910. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) were incorporated on February 8, 1910. The BSA National Scout Office opens in New York with 7 employees in 1911. The BSA published the Handbook For Boys in 1911. The BSA presented its first Heroism award in 1911. By 1912 Scouts were enrolled from every State. The first National Good Turn: A Sane and Safe Fourth of July was begun in 1912. The BSA purchased Boy's Life in 1912. The BSA in 1912 adopted Sea Scouting as part of the Scouting program. The first Eagle Scout was awarded in 1912. The BSA charted the first local councils in 1913. The BSA created Souting Magazine in 1913. The BSA published the Handbook for Scoutmasters in 1913. The BSA troop committee plan was developed in 1914. William Boyce organized the Lone Scouts of America in 1915. The Order of the Arrow was founded in Philidelphia during 1915. The BSA in 1915 issued 57 merit badge books. A key development was the BSA after several years rffort finally convinced Congress to grant a Federal Charter on June 15, 1916. Although the measure's sponsors assured a Texas congressman that the BSA would not be, the new charter was actually quite broad, giving the BSA in essence a monopoly on Scouting in America. [Macleod, p. 157.] The BSA in 1916 adopted a constitution and by-laws. The BSA established the Veteran Scout program in 1917. The BSA in 1917 after the entry of America in World War I, begins home-front service with the "Help win the war". The BSA rendered Nation-wide first-aid service in 1918 during the influenza epidemic. The BSA in 1918 established standards for Boy Scout camps. The BSA in 1919 held the first annual National Boy Scout Week. Other groups were organized in America. The Campfire Girls were also founded in 1910. The Girl Scouts of America was founded in 1912.

Girl Guides


The War Effort

The overiding event during the 1910s was World War I (1914-18). It was the greatest war in histotry and dominted the decade. With the surge of patriotism surrounding the War effort, support and membership in the Scouts grew in most countries. World War I was the first major war since the founding of youth groups and the first opportunity for these groups to organize young people on the home front to support the war effort. World war I was totl waras never before exoereienced In Europe. And the Hme Front became an important part of the War. The Boy Scouts and other youth groups in combatent countries were mobilized during World War I to suport the war effort. This varied from country to country. The British Scout and Guide movement was esoeciallyactive. The couts were less important in Germany. France had a very ctive Scouting movement. We do not yet extensive information on the effort in individual countries. The United States finally entered the War (April 1917). The Boy Scouts of America after the entry of America in World War I, began home-front service in 1917 with the "Help win the war". The Scout motto, "Be prepared" was put into action. The Scouts persued many home-front activities. Scouts planted "war gardens" with the slogan, "Every Scout to feed a soldier". They sold over 2 million war bonds. Another project was to collect peach pits which were used to make charcoal for gas masks. These patriotic prjects helped to make the Boy Scouts enormously popular.

Uniform Trends

The Scout Uniforms

The Scout uniforms for the most part continued to follow the same styles as in the 1900s. For the most part members of the new Scout movement dressed in uniforms quite similar to the original English uniforms. This began to change after the War which ended in 1918 as the various Scout national groups began the process of eastablishing more distinctive uniforms.


Figure 4.--This closeup shows most of the Cubs are in the new uniform with short pants. Although there is some variation, almost all boys wear the Cub cap.

Cub uniforms

The major uniform development in the 1910s was the introduction of Wolf Cubsin England with a program designed for younger boys. A uniform destinct from English Scouts was designed for the Cubs. The uniform adopted for the Cubs was a green peaked cap with yellow piping, a green jumper (sweater), colorful neckerchief, knee-length grey shorts, and grey kneesocks with garters and tabs (to keep the socks up). The Cub cap was based on the school caps commonly worn by British boys at the time. I'm not sure why green was chosen for the Cub jumpers. Perhaps it was in keeping with the jungle theme of Cub scouting. This uniform continued unchanged for decades and influenced the Cub uniforms adopted by Scout associations in other countries. Some adopted the exact same uniform. All Scout associations adopted the peaked cap. Most adopted the green color with yellow piping and some contries (Belgim and Italy) continue using it. Other Scout associations changed the colors.

Sources

Macleod, David I. Building Character in the American Boy: The Boy Scouts, YMCA, and Their Forerunners, 1870-1920 (The University of Wisconsin Press, 1983), 315p.







Christopher Wagner







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Created: November 15, 1998
Last updated: 9:39 AM 4/11/2017